Today is the first Sunday of Advent. I do not have special Advent candles, but as I put fresh tapers on the mantel, I think of the powerful,wonderful words: hope, peace, joy, and love.
Tyler and I have just returned from spending some time in the home of long-time friends who live out of state. Over the course of the past few days, we lingered at their table daily. Every morning I drank tea from this teapot, and every day my appreciation of friendship and beauty grew. Today I think that unless we really make time for (in other words, befriend) hope, peace, joy, and love, they will remain only words. Like the people we meet, if we do not spend time with them, they will not become a part of who we are. They will not become our friends. We will not be able to rest in their presence.
Throughout December, we of New Community of Faith will be reading and discussing Walter Brueggemann's Sabbath As Resistance, Saying No to the Culture of Now. All are welcome to join us. It is my hope that each of us can take to heart the idea that Advent is Sabbath, and that we can nurture the practice of pausing and giving our hearts and minds time to rest and reconnect, even in a society that continually stirs everyone with ongoing prompts of needing to be more and to own more. This engine drives particularly hard in December. However, an Advent Sabbath can surely help us remember that we are more than consumers, and that Christmas is something so vast that we can never simply achieve it. We can't work for it; we can't buy it. However, we can rest in it because it is already here, waiting for us.
Thus the Sabbath command of Exodus 20:11 recalls that God rested on the seventh day of creation, an allusion to Genesis 2:1-4. That divine rest on the seventh day of creation has made clear (a) that YHWH is not a workaholic, (b) that YHWH is not anxious about the full functioning of creation, and (c) that the well-being of creation does not depend on endless work. This performance and exhibit of divine rest thus characterize the God of creation, creation itself, and the creatures made in the image of the resting God...That divine rest on the seventh day, moreover, is recalled in the commandment of Exodus 31:12-17, wherein God is "refreshed" on the seventh day (Brueggemann, p. 6).
My thanks to my friend who shared the gift of her beautiful teapot, and her time. Both refresh me still.