Saturday, December 11, 2010
This has been a very strange Advent for me this year. The weekend before Advent Sunday I ended up in hospital for 4 nights. Others had to step in quickly and lead the services and did so willingly. A planned return to hospital on the 17th December for the day will hopefully see me fully back in action after that.
It has been frustrating. Much that I had planned has come to nought and I keep thinking of all the things I should be doing and could be doing. This episode rudely interrupted my carefully mapped out Advent. But the severe weather in many parts of the country has also, I am sure, disrupted many other carefully laid plans during the past weeks.
But, of course, the Advent story is full of interruptions to the plans of those involved.
Gabriel’s visit to Mary with the news that she was to have a child would surely have interrupted her plans for how she imagined her life would begin to unfold with Joseph.
Joseph’s plans were equally torn up because of Mary’s pregnancy and by the angel visitor who assured him that he should continue to take Mary as his wife. That was no easy decision.
The Roman census that meant a journey to Bethlehem must have seemed such an inconvenience at that moment in their lives as they awaited the birth of the child. Why was this happening just when they wanted to be at home surrounded by family?
The shepherds in the fields had their night’s work interrupted by the angelic messengers who told them of the good news - to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour who is the Messiah, the Lord. What should thy do about it?
Even the wise men on their journey went by way of Jerusalem, expecting to find the new born king there. This was a dangerous detour on their journey because it brought King Herod into the event and that would result tragedy to many families. It would also result in Mary, Joseph and Jesus seeking safety in Egypt. That would not have been part of their plan.
How do we deal with the interruptions that come to our plans? Some interruptions may be quite trivial and easily dealt with while others are more serious and difficult. One visitor suggested that I should see the interruption to my Advent plans as an opportunity - the opportunity to have some time for myself. Perhaps this interruption is the reminder that I am not indispensable and there are others in the church who are more than capable of doing things.
Do I need to take heed of the advice that I have so often given others in the past? When faced with unwelcome interruptions that seemed to make no sense in their lives my response has often been to encourage them not to get hung up on the question of why this interruption has come. Rather the encouragement is to reflect on the question, how will I react?
Isn’t that really the question that the main characters in the Advent story faced up to and answered, and often did so in the most remarkable ways?