Pride, they say, goes before a fall. At the end of October, I took my Grade 1 Drum exam and passed with Merit. I went to my next lesson flushed with success, sat down confidently at the drumkit – and failed to notice that as I put my foot on the bass pedal, my trouser leg had come down over the hammer for the bass drum. It took me a good few bars to work out why the sound was so muffled…
It is so much easier at home. With headphones but no amplifier, I can crash away to my heart’s content without disturbing Jamie, Lola the dog, or my illusions of being cool. There will come a day, I imagine, when I will be ready to play out loud, but for now it is great being able to practice and prepare in quiet privacy.
The theme of quiet preparation runs through the season of Advent, which starts on Sunday 2nd December. We follow, in the church services, the ways God was at work over many years to prepare the world for the birth of Jesus: in the prophets, who spoke of the Messiah to come; in Zechariah and Elizabeth, whose son John would pave the way for the adult Jesus; in Simeon and Anna, readying them to recognise salvation in a tiny baby; and of course in Mary herself.
In following these stories, we are invited to make our own preparations for welcoming the Christ child. This is a time to face the troubles of the world and the fears in our hearts, to remind ourselves why the world needed and still needs a Saviour. Our Advent hymns speak of justice and judgment as well as light and hope; we need not to lose sight of that. This is also a time for prayer and reflection, individually or together. The Advent Discussion group runs on Mondays till 10th December, and you are welcome to come along for any or all of the sessions.
Not that we are going to resist Christmas completely during Advent. We have our Toy and Gift service on 9th December so that the Salvation Army have time to distribute the gifts, and that service is followed by Christmas drinks and nibbles. On 16th December there is the Ga-Dangme Fellowship Christmas service in the afternoon and our traditional Carol Service at 6.30pm. But apart from those times, we may want to hold back on the Christmas carols.
We make our quiet preparations so that, when Christmas Day comes, we really know what we are celebrating and can do it with gladness.
I wish you all a deepening calm in Advent, a joyful Christmas and a peaceful New Year. And don’t get your drum hammer up your trouser leg.