Preparing For Worship – Leah Lucas, Wilshire intern.
If you’re anything like I am, trying to make sense of how we’re already entering Advent, “rest” usually feels like fantasy more than reality. This Sunday’s processional hymn might even almost come off like a taunt: Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free … let us find our rest in thee.
Find rest? This time of year?! I don’t know about you, but my calendar and to-do list come Christmas time have almost no room for rest. There are seminary assignments and expectations; work meetings and deadlines; Christmas parties for every single group I’m involved in. Oh, and let’s not forget all of those family gatherings and traditions! This season, full of comings and goings, just doesn’t seem compatible with getting rest.
Yet, somehow, still we sing. Waiting for our second cup of coffee to kick in, we anticipate Christ drawing nearer. We remember that our Savior, born of human flesh, dwelled among us. We celebrate the birth of Jesus and find hope in the freedom it’s allowed us to experience. If only we could understand the restfulness that accompanies this Christ-brought freedom! We are not meant to be anything other than who we were created to be. Jesus’s lowly birth — his own resting in a manger of barnyard fodder — reminds us that true rest can only be found in freedom from worldly expectations and perfectionistic ideals. Somehow, this ancient infant reminds us that God has no unfulfilled expectations of us. That God has reached out to us, calling us loved and whole, and reminding us to rest in our belovedness. As Jesus’s followers, we’re meant to live lives of hope, marked by unearnable, unmerited rest.
As we prepare to enter into worship, I want you to consider how you might practically find rest during this hectic season. Would that look like saying no to going to a Christmas party that you really don’t care to go to? Maybe it would look like not having a perfectly clean house for guests, but being able to welcome others into a house brimming with restful joy? Advent is just beginning. Make sure you guard your rest, knowing that God became flesh among us in order to set us free for exactly this reason!