Lord, you’ve been kind to your land; you’ve changed Jacob’s circumstances for the better. You’ve forgiven your people’s wrongdoing; you’ve covered all their sins. —Psalm 85:1-2
The picture above was taken the night before last year’s Lessons and Carols services. The dress rehearsal for the choir – the final preparation for the coming event — had been held earlier in the day, and I wasn’t there.
I joined Trinity in 1980 to sing in the choir. I may have missed an Advent/Candlelight service somewhere in the ensuing years, but I don’t remember one. I’m pretty sure I had not missed a Lessons and Carols, which Charles Staples introduced to Trinity in 1991.
Along with the rest of the choir, I began preparation for last year’s services months ahead of time. One rehearsal night in November I realized I had written the wrong date for the performances on my calendar and had made an out-of-town family commitment for the day of the services.
I knew I was going to miss my first Lessons and Carols, but I continued to prepare for the coming event. Isn’t that what Advent is about? We are preparing, waiting, for the birth of the Messiah. The waiting is part of our spiritual journey, and we get to do it every year.
The scripture verses from Psalm 85 are the first two of a communal prayer asking for the renewal or restoration of God’s mercies in a time of distress, but later verses speak to the coming of God and salvation.
Advent focuses us on the birth of Jesus—the coming of God on earth— but it also focuses us on the second coming and our journey toward salvation through Christ.