When the Angels Are Hanging On

As we celebrated our hanging of the greens service, I was reminded of two years ago when I decorate in a silent sanctuary not to gather to celebrate the coming of the Light of the World, but instead to set a background for the numerous videos and reflections I would record in order to celebrate Advent in the midst of COVID. Even as we were decorating and laughing and eating together, I was struck by the miracle of it all. We were here together again even when it felt like all hope was lost.

As we celebrate this Advent season, we still get reminders of the way life has changed. Hospitals and ERs are overwrought again not just with COVID cases, but with flu and RSV. We are reminded of the tenderness of life in the darkest time of year.

While it may seem that this new reality doesn’t hold hope or peace or joy, I wonder if it has actually helped us to see things more clearly. We don’t spend as much time or energy trying to plan the perfect gathering or having everything put exactly in place because we know that plans can change and that being together is what is most important.

As I walked into the sanctuary this Sunday, I realized that our angel topper was a bit askew as if she were hanging on to hope. I resisted the urge to recenter her because I think perhaps this is what we are feeling this Advent season. We are hanging on to hope that we will be able to continue to come together, that any sicknesses that come to us will be brief and mild, and even when we are just holding on the Light of the World will overwhelm us with the promise of what is to come.