I spent this morning writing my Ash Wednesday sermon. This may sound a bit odd in light of the fact that it is the day after Thanksgiving and only 3 days before Advent 1, but I assure you, all of these things played a heavy role in the text that resulted. First of all, the sermon is for my preaching class and since I do not have another sermon to be preached at field ed this semester I figured it would make good sense to write a sermon that I will use next semester. Second, since Advent is another penitential season of the church year I was able to settle into the task quite well. For me, the connection between Lent and Advent is intrinsically bound so going to that place required commitment to begin the journey a few days early.
Ten years ago, when my mother died, Advent became my Lent -A role reversal of sorts that works on the outside because they are both penitential seasons, but in the hustle and bustle of the commercial Christmas season can be quite a difficult feat.
Now, as I prepare for the ten year anniversary of that season and that day, my whole world is different. I am more the woman my mother knew I could be, but that I, in my adolescence, had no knowledge of. I still ache for her: this time of year more than any other. But I smile too, because she would be proud. Advent is my lent. I prepare for a birth as I prepare for a death. I search my heart and ask what God wants of me. My adolescence stopped abruptly and I wasn’t ready. In that time I was so angry and wanted to know what I had done to deserve the ache; but now I ask what I did to deserve such a wonderful woman to be my mother for even those 19 years.
So this Advent will begin with the traditions I learned growing up: with the preparation for a birth. I will decorate. I will sing. I will worship. I will sit quietly and know that God is God. I will be thankful. But a different tradition that I have added to my repertoire is that I will remember. I will remember who it is that God has called me to be, and I will remember the many gifts that God has given me along the way to help me become the woman I am called to be. I will remember and give thanks for my mom.
I listened to a Kris Delmhorst song on repeat for much of my sermon writing process and I offer you now the words of the chorus:
“I’m not on no yellow brick road, got a mind and a heart and guts of my own. I’m not looking for a one to set me free. I’m not on no yellow brick road; I’ll find my own way home. I’m just looking for someone to walk with me.” -Yellow Brick Road by Kris Delmhorst
So, I invite you now to walk this Advent road with me. I invite you to remember what it is that we are preparing for even when the commercials and store displays try to distract us from the truth. And I invite you to give your loved ones a hug and to thank them for walking with you. Thank you, my friends, for walking with me.