In our post-Advent worship sermon, the preacher told us we were “two-faced.” Now before you think him to be mean-spirited, let me explain!
Normally that characterization would be offensive, but the speaker was describing what happens to us in the week between Advent and New Year’s Day. He likened it to the practice of the ancient Roman god, Janus (which may or may not have been the etymology of January). Roman myth teaches that Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions, has two faces since he simultaneously looks to the future and to the past. So the preacher wasn’t insulting us. He was making an observation of the practices we follow during these in-between times preceding January 1st.
Hence the two-faced characterization of God’s people. Now that Advent is neatly wrapped up, we’ve shifted into a recount of 2014 (thank you, Facebook) as we scribble a bucket list of hopes and dreams for the next 365 days. While these are positive things I relish doing every year, I’ve found myself wanting to gaze a little longer into the Christ candle flame, sink more deeply into my Advent devotions, and celebrate more the birth of Jesus.
Can we just turn aside our two-faced profile for a moment and rewind to the song of Emmanuel?
stay in the present moment . . . Emmanuel, God with us . . .
right now, a little lingering with Jesus . . .
I grew up learning how to linger. Sitting idly with adults over coffee and cake when friends came for an afternoon visit was a weekly norm. Lounging at the dining table following a multiple course meal, listening in on big people conversations ending with (you guessed it) coffee and cake was part of our lifestyle. Lingering was an expectation for young and old alike.
Because I value these family times so much, I actually built in lingering for our family Thanksgiving meal this year. Realistically, there can only be so much lolling around at a traditional feast with four grandsons ages five and under. So I designed a simple centerpiece that didn’t take up too much space and lined the perimeter of the table with butcher block paper. At each table setting I placed a small jar of crayons. Adults and kids drew pumpkins, turkeys and whatever inspired them. Everyone happily lingered, especially the older boys!
Soon I will be making a list of goals for 2015. Jim and I have already spent many hours discussing our plans for change in the new year. It’s exciting to look forward!
But before the ball drops and we ring in the new, I’m going to linger.