I am writing this on the coolest day October has brought us so far. As the wind tugs more leaves from the trees, it is easy to believe that November is already holding open the door, inviting us in. In the church’s liturgical calendar, November moves quickly. Indeed, it asks us to step through several doors on after the other, barely catching our breath as we hurry along.
We begin the month with the celebration of All Saints Day, with its memories of loved ones and its recognition of the Great Cloud of Witnesses that surrounds us.
Wend one liturgical year on the 22nd when we celebrate Christ the King and its call to remember that Christ holds the future, as well as the present.
We continue through the week of Thanksgiving, with its focus on gratitude and on the ingathering of another harvest.
And, finally, we arrive at the last Sunday of the month which is, ironically, the first day of the new liturgical year as the cycle renews once again. November29th is the start of the season of Advent, the season of waiting and preparing for Jesus to come both at the end time and as a babe in the manger.
It is safe to say that all of these November moments will look different in 2020than they did in 2019, or any time in recent memory. Our gatherings and traditions will adapt to this new reality. They will be smaller, shorter, possibly virtual, certainly simpler.
In recent years, some of our ecumenical neighbors, and many Lutherans as well, have chosen to celebrate an extended Advent. They have begun the season of preparation and waiting not four weeks before the celebration of Christmas (as our calendar indicates) but with the Sunday following All Saints.
I have to admit that this year, the invitation to such an extended time of quiet prayerfulness has sounded pretty good. Although we aren’t extending our Advent at Zion in any official way, maybe this is the year for all of us to realize that a few extra weeks of breathing deeply, making time for devotions and meditation, and opening ourselves up to the unexpected would be three weeks well spent.
As you read this, I invite you to spend a little time thinking and praying about how you might walk through this November with its many doors. How might God be calling you to journey from memory to gratitude to beginning again? How might God be calling Zion Lutheran Church to this same journey?
Blessings to you!