Grace in the Everyday · Liturgical Year · Living Faith

Advent: The Liturgical All-Nighter

Photo on 11-22-13 at 3.15 PM #2

“Brothers and sisters:
You know the time;
it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.”
– Romans 13:11, from the readings for the 1st Sunday of Advent (i.e. today)

I have been so asleep. In a daze. Skating about from class to class, paper to paper, task to task. Zoning out in front of the next episode and the next episode and the next episode of New Girl and Parks and Rec and Chuck. In short my life of late has been pretty unreflective.

I haven’t known how to tell you about it. I haven’t known how to tell God about it.

Nothing’s wrong, per se. I think it’s just the persistence of 14 weeks of a graduate-school semester weighing on me. The perseverance it calls for is draining. My brain is tired, and so…I haven’t had much to say. I’ve spent my free moments watching purposefully brainless television programming or knitting or both.

And then, Advent.

Sun rise over the Atlantic. At Echo NH retreat.

Right now? Right in the darkest dusk of the semester when it’s unclear if the light at the end of the tunnel is to be counted upon or dismissed as a foolish hope? I know, it’s just grad school, and I’m so close to being done. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic.

I’m just not ready.

But, my friends, this is precisely the point, is it not?

“Stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
– Matthew 24:42-44, from the readings for the 1st Sunday of Advent (ahem, today)

Get ready. Wake up. The world is about to change. The Lord is coming. Prepare a way. Do I have to? I’d much rather muscle and muddle through the next two weeks of finals and papers and then concentrate on my relationship with God and preparing myself for Christmas. But that’s not really how it works. “Just a moment, Lord. If you would kindly come back in a few minutes? I’m just..finishing…this last…..sentence. There. Done! Jesus? Hey, where’d you go?”

Sometimes I can get annoyed when the liturgical year doesn’t match up with whatever season of life I’m going through. For instance, I remember having a very hard time observing Lent during my engagement period with Tom. I was so joyful, it just didn’t fit. But in a way, that’s what makes the liturgical year so beautiful. It cajoles us into incorporating the major movements of the Christian story into our lives whether it’s convenient and timely, or not.

Because far from being the occasion when we should push God off until later, the seasons in our lives when we have no time or energy for Jesus are exactly when we need the liturgical year to remind us to let God into all of it. I need the reminder not to reserve for God the parts of my life that are congenial and well-rested, but also the times when I feel zapped, boring, exhausted. “Oh, I said that already, Jesus? Sorry, I’ve been quite tired lately. I can’t seem to come up with anything interesting to talk about.”

And then I hear him say, “If you are tired, come to me. I will give you rest.”

Of course, my tired mind remembers, you love me everyday. You want to be with me always. I’m not at my best, but here I am, Lord.

Happy Advent,



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