This year the collects for Advent are making me somewhat angry.
I have always been someone who has reveled in Advent, indeed I have always been someone who thoroughly enjoys anticipation of any kind. There is something wonderful about knowing a delight is about to happen but now knowing just how and when it might manifest itself, not knowing what heights it might hit, not knowing what it might be the beginning or end of. I find such times very creative, I spend a lot of time in Advent – between the rushing about – pondering, digging back to find old words, old items, old thoughts. That standing on tip-toes straining to see but not quite being able to challenges and excites me.
I look forward to Advent, to doing new things with my congregations which will hopefully also give them those tip-toe glimpses and stir up their joyful anticipation. In that respect this year has been no different, through the stonemasons art and Psalm 122 we explored the Patriarchs and Prophets; through fine art and the Benedictus John the Baptist has and will proclaim; and Mary, well I am not going to speak of Mary yet – anticipation remember. A group of us have met together to share Morning Prayer – for me it is sheer bliss to say it with others for a change. With another group Evening Prayer has echoed down through the ages with the Prayer Book. We have explored a variety of soaring versions of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, just what do these interpretations tell us of anticipation, of how to wait, of what we wait for. The sermons this year have taken me on different journeys, both so far being interrupted by events in the world, the Cultha tragedy and the death of Nelson Mandela (Hopefully tomorrows wont need to be re-written as well at this late stage). I have enjoyed the exploration, I have bathed in the awe, I have pondered the seemingly unfathomable and been mesmerised by it all, some of it when I was preparing it but the collects, oh dear!
For years I have been saying them, praying them, in the past I can remember times when they have sat uncomfortably with me but never like this. times when I have be glad for the familiarity of them, especially the collect for Advent 1 which, being the old fashioned gal that I am, I use throughout Advent as the Prayer Book instructs. This year however they are just making me angry. They want to beat me down, knock out all my spirit, tell me that there is no hope in me, I know that isn’t true but on they cry. And then tomorrows effort well! Let’s have a full blown dig at the ministers and stewards of God’s mysteries, lets see if God’s people can at least be ‘acceptable’ at judgement. Just where is the hope, where is the Gaudete, where is the I became Emmanuel because I love you and will never stop loving you? The collect for Advent 4 is slightly better however it still says: ‘when he comes again as our judge’. Isn’t it about time we left behind that missused word and reworded the Advent collects?