It is a good and joyful thing to be with you here, this morning, on the First Sunday of Advent.
Advent is the beginning--
Advent marks the arrival of a new liturgical year--
We change liturgical colors from the green of Ordinary time and the white of Christ the King to the Blue of Advent--
Blue is the color of getting ready---
It is the color of the sky just before dawn
Blue is also the color of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
It is the color of expectation and of waiting--
Advent is a season of holy preparation for something divine
Something promised yet unknown--
Advent is the season of getting ready for the arrival of something promised long ago by the prophets of Israel, propehets like Jeremiah who we hear this morning, all spoke of the coming of Christ, of how a savior would be born, a king in the line of David.
They spoke of how this King would rule the world wisely and bless all nations.
Advent is the season of waiting for the fulfillment of this promise.
I wonder what this could really mean for us here, now, today as Christians living in 2021, two thousand years after the birth of Jesus the Christ.
The Advent wreath is an important part of our preparations.
There is one here in our sanctuary and many of us light an advent wreath at home, too.
There is one candle for each Sunday in Advent—and there are always four Sundays of Advent in the church year—three blue candles and one pink candle.
Some add a fifth candle—a white candle in the center—to mark the arrival of Christmas.
Blue is the color of getting ready, pink is the color of Joy—the third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday—Joy Sunday—and white is the color of celebration and feasting.
With each week the light of the advent wreath grows brighter--
—and as the light of the wreath grows brighter, we grow closer to the arrival of the mystery of Christmas.
The mystery of the word made flesh--
The mystery of the birth of a king--
A king unlike any the world has ever known or expected--
A king with no wealth or status or privilege—no army or castle--
As the liturgical year begins again, we, too, begin a new year of preparing our hearts for the coming of God in new and unexpected ways--
And I wonder--
Can we pretend to forget everything we think we know about Jesus and God and Shepherds and Angels and Stars--
About Mary and Joseph and Bethlehem. About the Magi and their gifts?
How does it feel to imagine coming to this season as if we truly do not know what we are preparing for--
How can we experience this Advent with a beginner’s mind--marked by curiosity and openness—questions and not answers--
And, while it is the beginning of a new liturgical year—and we begin preparations for the mystery of Christmas--
It is also the beginning of a new year in the life of the community of the Church of the Transfiguration.
We are getting ready, together, for the arrival of a new rector.
And, while I promise you the new rector is NOT the second coming of Christ, preparing for the arrival of a new rector IS ADVENT work--
We are preparing for something and someone still unknown--
The alchemy of calling a new rector is a mystery. And it takes time.
The primary work of an Interim Rector, my vocation, is to prepare the Parish for the arrival of the new Rector.
Our time together is a season of preparation in the life of this faith community.
In our time together, God will reveal truth and wisdom to us in our shared discernment, prayer, and preparation.
You have called me as your Interim Rector and I am so grateful to be with you during this season of getting ready.
Not only just this specific liturgical season of Advent—but this season of preparation for the arrival of your new Rector.
Any of us who have prepared a dinner for a guest, prepared a home for a child, or prepared for a journey, knows this: preparation—waiting—watching—is not static work. We are not in a holding pattern.
It may feel still at times. Or slow. We may feel anxious at times. We may become impatient and want what we want when we want it.
But, God takes the time God takes.
As it is with the Prophets and the Holy Family and the Shepherds and the Magi: Ours is to remain faithful to the task at hand--to wait on God. To watch for God. And to prepare our hearts and this parish home for the presence of God in one another, and in the calling of a new rector.
And so, in hopeful anticipation, let us begin the start of this new year together.
The Rev. Anne K. Ellsworth
Advent 1, Year C
November 28, 2021
Church of the Transfiguration
 Godly Play, Advent 1
My Sermons (and other thoughts)
a sampling of sermons preached in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and a sprinkling of other writings