For perhaps the first time in my life, I'm LISTENING to the sermons. I feel my religious (similar, but not the same as spiritual) mind reawakening. I've always enjoyed studying religions, but as my non-religious/Biblical scholar friend Dave once pointed out, I am rather ignorant of a lot of the Bible. I've gone through the whole questioning/ soul searching thing. Ok, well that is a life-long process, but I've gone through the rough times and discovered that I love the ELCA faith (I'll write more about this another day).
That means quite simply, that I believe that WE are saved by God's GRACE. PERIOD. In the words of Pastor Scherr, we GET to go to church, we GET to serve our neighbors, but those things have nothing to do with our salvation. Change the "I have tos" to "I get tos" and suddenly life feels free, exciting and guilt free, eh?
Last night was the last of a set of three mid-week Advent services. The congregation (more like 10% of us) get together and share a potluck-style soup dinner and then we follow a beautiful liturgy, the Holden Evening Prayer. I think it helps to be a singer when it comes to religion. Part of the reason I enjoy church so much is I love to sing, I love to sight read, I love to try out harmonies, I love to listen preludes and postludes, I love to hang-out with the choir folk (it's true, they are a super fun/ slightly naughty group of individuals)...
ANYWAY, I've become really excited about Advent this year and what it represents (or the small portion that I've finally grasped). Perhaps it's because I have my own babe and so the birth of Christ is a totally new experience through my "mom" eyes.
All that being said, I also believe in Santa Claus. To me, Santa represents a belief in the unseen, an excitement of things to come, a spirit of charity and love to others... hmmm... kinda like the Christ child! I'm looking forward to the upcoming years when I get to witness this faith and excitement in Hazel. I'm also looking forward to teaching her about Advent and the beauty of Christ's birth. Someday I'll help her wade through this season and sift through what's imaginary, what's real, and what's important... but let's not get so focused on reality that we steal any of the mystery and excitement from this beautiful holiday!
There are seven glorious days left to reflect and prepare for what's to come. Yes, shop, wrap, bake, watch White Christmas... but also remember Mary, a woman travelling at the end of her pregnancy and prepare yourself to celebrate THE birth that changed EVERYTHING!
Do you believe? In the above picture I clearly see God in two forms.