I can hardly believe that today is already the third Sunday of Advent. Typically, The Dale would have gathered today, like many other congregations, and lit a candle to symbolize Joy (having lit the Hope and Peace candles over the last two weeks.) Of course, things look different this year, but as a community The Dale has still been practising Advent together… but apart.
In late November we distributed Advent packages containing five candles of the traditional Advent colours (three purple, one red, one white), a devotional book with pages to colour for each week, some pencil crayons, a little box of matches, and a pencil sharpener. It has been lovely knowing that we are each lighting the same colour of candle each week, reading the same Scripture, prayer and song, and perhaps colouring in the same design (created by my sister!).
I’ve been thinking a lot about Joy this weekend, and what Advent Joy could possibly mean in 2020. As we all know, it been a year. The first three months had their own set of challenges, including a concerning viral outbreak in China… but then March came and COVID turned the whole world upside down. As a wise and poetic friend (Amanda Jagt) pointed out this week, these past nine months have given birth to so many things. They have birthed incredible sorrow and hardship, and they have also birthed some much needed change (or at least the beginnings of some changes).
At The Dale, these nine months have been full of challenge and change, and also surprising joys.
We have developed relationships with people we might not have otherwise, simply because they saw the line up for meals on Mondays and Thursdays.
We have developed new partnerships with organizations and individuals who have been incredibly generous to our little community, including one group that donated our outreach van (!).
We have been able to do more street outreach than ever, and have shared sweet and poignant moments with friends both new and old. One of my favourite new “traditions” that has developed since COVID is that every time we come across a particular friend walking down the street (this friend is quite elderly, uses a cane, and is a man of very few words), we both stop in our tracks and do a few dance moves, then carry on.
There is joy, even in the middle of a pandemic.
Continued in next blog…