I have been sick. Exhausted. Weak. Short of breath. Unable to drink wine. Unable to sleep. Unable to help move things as we set up our church office. Unable to just be the tenacious get-shit-done kind of woman I usually am. And all of these things wear me thin. And sad. And weary. And frustrated.
And she/he/ze keeps on kicking me.
And palpably, I know all this pain, exhaustion, and discomfort is headed somewhere. Beautiful. Unimaginable. Somewhere with a literal life all its own. Somewhere that will make all things blessedly never the same. At all.
Advent is easily my favorite time of the year. Nothing could detract from that. But, let me add, as a pastor, Advent also kind of sucks.
It is a busy season. Family expects a lot of me. Family expects a lot of church members. Church members expect a lot of pastors. And it is a beautiful and important season when we want our work to be meaningful and unlock new ways of seeing the world and new hope even as despair often closes in on people around the holidays.
It is a cold season. Neighbors experiencing physical needs experience more need.
It is a taxing season.
Sort of like pregnancy, it depletes every resource us pastors have. It hurts. It is exhausting. We grow weary. As the whole world outside of us seems to be going into hibernation, we wonder why we have to kick things up a notch rather than curl up and let time pass emptily by.
And there is this new world breaking in. It is kicking us. Like my child, it refuses to go unnoticed.
Something new is happening. Something is being born. A new life is coming into being. It will change everything. Something is coming that will make all things blessedly never the same. At all.
Today I went to a prayer meeting of all male evangelical pastors. (I may be weaker than usual, but no less brave!)
We heard a story from a local social worker of a very young mother on the verge of terrible things stemming from her battle with meth. Miracles happened. The young woman is receiving generous, plush help, partnership, friendship. People in our city - not pastors - met her in the darkest corners and walked with her into blinding hope. It was impossible goodness coming from pain, discomfort, sickness...It was Advent.
So, of course, being the only woman in the room - and certainly the only pregnant person - I cried as I thanked the social worker for her unfathomable story of Advent.
As our meeting progressed, the male pastors were talking about how tiring and discouraging Advent season could be. And with every concern they shared, my child kicked me. My child said “I’m here. I’m coming. I’m the reason you are tired. I’m the reason you are sick. And I am so worth it!”
I shared a gift my male peers can never know in the way that I do this Advent: This exhaustion we feel is a birth pang. It is a new life taking all our resources to be born and change everything. This is advent. (PS Male pastors who aren’t into woman pastors, this is one of the reasons why you need us at your table. Just sayin’.)
As we prayed to close our time, my prayer for them - and my prayer for all of us - was this:
As I am palpably feeling the kicks of a new life who is tapping all my resources this Advent season, and who gloriously will not be ignored - will not be overlooked as a beautiful new in-breaking of God’s fingerprints on this world,
May we palpably feel God’s coming kicking us,
Even as we are weary
Keeping us up at night
Keeping us woke
When we’d rather sleep
"I am coming.
And I will change everything.
You who are weary,