My kitchen will soon be filled with Polish pockets of love, pierogies. Just like grandma used to make. I’ll roll 20 dozen of these dough pockets filled with cheese, potato, sauerkraut or prune. On Christmas Eve they are slathered with butter and onions and consumed in quantity. Pierogies are not just food. Pierogies mean family, storytelling, laughing and crying together about the way things are, and the way things used to be. They are a sign of a Christmas Eve dinner that concludes with gathering for candle-light worship.
The pierogi-making date is already on the calendar, December 15th. Why? Because I have learned to expect the urgent at Advent.
And why shouldn’t I? From Mary’s angel to Joseph’s dream, from the star’s rising to the Wisemen’s journey home by another way. The event of Christ’s birth brought the unplanned that needed immediate response. Why, some 2,000 years later, would this Advent be any different?
So in this season, amidst our already full lives, we add shopping, decorating, cookie-making, family dinners, holiday lunches, special worship services…. And just when we think we have mastered our schedule, the urgent appears. A funeral. A child’s holiday concert. Someone in need of immediate assistance.
In these first few weeks of Advent, we may not know the urgent that will arise, but it is surely coming. So let’s be sure to schedule time for the important.
- When and how will you connect with family and friends in meaningful ways?
To do this well, it might mean organizing your Christmas Eve services or baking and shopping a week before, so that you can be fully present for the holiday.
- In this season of giving, how will you remember those in need?
The ways to serve are endless: donations to UMCOR and your local social services, mailing cards to the homebound, hands on mission through packing holiday food baskets and serving at a soup kitchen.
- What does renewal look like for you?
For some it means quiet time apart, for others it is fully engaging in the merriment of the season.
- How will you abide in Christ this Advent?
For me this means centering myself on the Christmas message by reading an Advent devotional under the lights of a twinkling tree and Christmas Caroling to the homebound. How about you?
As we plan for the important this Advent, there will be a time when we will need to surrender to the urgent. And before the urgent becomes overwhelming, ask yourself how this opportunity can glorify God. For Mary, the mother of Jesus, she responded to the unexpected message of Christ’s coming with the faithful words, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:37). The Christmas message reminds us that while we do not plan the unexpected, it can be part of God’s plan.
As I prepare for my pierogies, I wonder what’s already on your calendar in anticipation of the coming urgency? What are you doing to prepare so that you can respond to the urgent this Advent?