I offered this reflection at our weekly staff worship service today.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
through the tender mercy of our God,
when the day shall dawn upon us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Reading that final verse from the Song of Zechariah makes me realize that my feet matter a lot during the season of Advent.
I know, that sounds a little strange. But don't worry, I'm not freaking out about what shoes to wear or whether or not my toenails are perfectly painted. Instead, I find myself thinking about where my feet lead me, and how what my feet do have an even greater impact on my heart.
Even though we use our feet every day, through all seasons, Advent and Christmas highlight their importance. We walk a lot, you know? We rush, actually. And this time of year is the most feet-pounding, chest-heaving, forehead-sweating of them all. Parties, shopping, mingling, cooking, traveling, leading countless worship services, running back and forth to the copier... and back and forth again when you see that typo right in front of your face...
Our sore feet sigh gratefully when we kick off our shoes and turn in each night, though our brains are often already going over the to-do list for the next day. Is that cycle of foot (and heart) exhaustion really the way of peace that Zechariah speaks of as he foretells the coming of Christ? How often do we mistake exhaustion for peace in this season of rushing? We have conditioned our brains to think that when we have checked off the entire shopping list, we can have peace. When we have waved goodbye and the last partygoer has left, we can have peace. I'm not saying that these aren't peaceful moments, when the house goes quiet and all you can hear is your own feet pattering on the kitchen tile. But I do imagine that Zechariah - and Jesus, for that matter - would ask us to look deeper within and be aware that peace doesn't have to begin only when everything is finished. Maybe, if we look hard enough, and breathe deeply enough, we can find it in the midst of these busy days and hold onto it, and take deliberate steps to follow that path.
On Christmas Eve, I have my own beloved version of what goes on in thousands of churches around the world. I stand in the back of my home sanctuary, bouncing with anticipation as the organ strikes up the first chords of "O Come, All Ye Faithful." And as we begin to sing, I process with my fellow choir members down the aisle to the front of the church. It has been here in these quick-but-slow moments that come only once a year that I think I first captured the importance of my feet, walking down the same red velvet aisle that I have walked since I was a very small child. I feel a sense of timelessness in this walk, as if I am somehow joining with my six and twelve and twenty year old selves to once again find my way back to the peace of "O come, let us adore Him" - no matter what has happened to me over the past year. And no matter where I may wind up for Advents and Christmases yet to come, I pray that I will take care with my feet, walking within the timeless peace that Christ is born once more. So may we all. Amen.
Lord, I wrote this with a heart of hope, but there's a lot more to actually going through this busy season with the peace that I talk about. Help these to not simply be words from my mouth but may they guide my actions as well.
Here's Advent 1.4.
Here's Advent 1.4.