I miss Advent. I know that sounds strange coming from a "pastor" but I really do. I love the anticipation and the advent carols and the candles and all that. I've never been to church on Christmas or Christmas Eve--ever in my whole life--so I've always (well, the past 6 years) done all this waiting and anticipation and preparation and whatnot, and then been home with my family and opened presents and cooked yummy food as the big climax. But I really enjoy Advent. The extra services, the devotionals, the way it's not weird to be spiritual, etc.
Here in Egypt the protestant churches don't observe Advent (and Christmas isn't a huge deal either) because it's "too Orthodox." Advent is what the Coptic Orthodox do: they fast, they have extra masses, etc. But protestants are still working on solidifying their identity and so they are using the negatives to do that--they are NOT orthodox.
Our English speaking church has tried to observe Advent--we've had the wreath, the lectionary, and even some of the songs. But this week we jumped ahead, not just to Christmas but to Epiphany too! We had the lectionary readings for the fourth week of Advent, but the hymns we sang were Christmas carols and even some about the wise men. We sang probably 8 hymns including the three at the beginning of the service, and not a single one was about Advent. Here we are in the very heart of the waiting, getting really close but not quite there, and we've skipped on to the good part. There's speculation that it's because we volunteers will be gone on actual Christmas, but I hope that isn't the reason for the rush because we are just four people in a congregation of about 40 or 50. I am saddened that we lost Advent at the time of the Magnificat.
I have tried to keep the Advent spirit in my flat, with the RevGal devotional and the devotional for students that the PCUSA sent us. I've lit one or two candles each night. I've talked about Advent. But not to have it in the church is really difficult for me. I wonder what it will mean for my first churchy Christmas that I have missed out on the season of anticipation and preparation. It's strange to be changing things so much this year. Granted, I'm purposely living in another country, experiencing things another way, but still. It's very strange.
That's all. I hope the last week of your Advent is full of waiting and expectation, of holiness.