Like many churches in Central Maine, Old South had to cancel worship for the two Sundays before Christmas—Advent territory. For the first of those cancellations, a raging snowstorm rolled in at exactly the most inconvenient time, making travel to and from worship hazardous. The second of the cancellations involved an ice storm, and a much longer and sustained period of even more hazardous travel.
The first Sunday “snow day” was, I have to admit, kind of fun. My family and I had breakfast together. We puttered around the house and watched television shows that we rarely get to watch, like Meet the Press and a Rick Steves travel show.
But the second “snow day” was not nearly so fun. I didn’t even make it through the first ten minutes of Meet the Press and Rick Steves was off to a place in the world I don’t plan to visit. So, I got to work—lots still do to get Christmas Eve organized and I had to work out a “plan b” for the delivery of Giving Tree gifts, etc.
Puttering around my house on these Sunday morning “snow days,” got me to wonder: is this what the “spiritual but not religious” people do every Sunday morning?
On Sundays when the weather isn’t a problem, the SBNR probably get out and do other things—the gym, sports, brunch, household chores.
But, is that it? Is that enough?
I found myself missing Advent, and missing worship—missing the dimension of my life that is grounded in church, in the gathered community of God’s people who struggle and strive to be serious about faith. I could have done some of the things that we would have done in church, at home. But I knew it wouldn’t even remotely be the same.
There are times when going to church gets to feel a little like its own routine, but the two weeks that we missed worship during one of the most important seasons of the year, I realized that there’s something about worship, and about church, that is important—foundational— in connecting meaningfully with faith. Worship connects me to the holy, a sense of the sacred that is beyond me, in a way that is different than other settings. There is something important about gathering with a group of people, who are taking time out of their own busy lives to connect to faith on a deeper level. There is something about the intention of being together, knowing that the holy too is in our midst.
Advent, like Lent, has a special quality because it is not something that is marketed heavily in the dominant culture, as the holiday that ends the season. Though Christmas gets heavy attention, the season of Advent is for those who go to church, those whose faith is an important component in their lives.
When we don’t have worship, something clearly is missing—something that an Advent ritual at home cannot completely capture. Especially during a season when the big holiday, Christmas, is so dominant, so omnipresent, I realized how much I missed being present to Advent, with people who share a common faith, but also bring something different to the faith.
This weekend’s predicted storm is not expected to arrive until Sunday afternoon. Thank goodness. I’ll be glad to be in worship Sunday morning, and I’ll be thinking about my new awareness of what this all means, and how it might be shared.