Forward Today: Advent confessions of a clergy spouse

Photo by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash

Dear friends in Christ: We’re pleased to welcome Lindsay Barrett-Adler, our Director of Development, as our guest author this week.

Last Sunday, I heard my parish priest (and husband) say the following words to begin A Service of Advent Lessons and Carols: “Beloved in Christ, in this season of Advent, let it be our care and delight to prepare ourselves to hear again the message of the Angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem, to see the Babe lying in a manger.”

I have been preparing many things lately—decorations, presents, school break babysitters, cookie exchanges, and all kinds of Christmas fun for my family. And that’s in addition to my paid ministry here at Forward Movement. Sitting with our two-year-old in the church soft space, I continued to reflect on Paul’s (the husband’s) invitation to prepare my heart and mind for Christmas, now only a few weeks away. Did he just add one more task to my ever-expanding list?

And this can easily become the refrain of my Advent as a clergy spouse. More services, more meetings, more parties, more commitments, and the ever-present pressure to deliver a picture-perfect Christmas morning at the end of it all. If anything, church can sometimes feel like an extra burden at an already frenzied time of the year. I could get so much done in that hour on Sunday morning!

Putting the third dozen batch of cookies into the freezer, I imagine how Martha must have felt when she and Mary welcomed Christ into their home. I have been so busy and so stressed, so worried about all the things on that to-do list. Would Jesus look at my priorities and say I am giving value to the most important things? In the brief time left in Advent, will I choose “the better part,” or will I continue to cling to stress as a status symbol and conversation starter, letting that to-do list monopolize my heart and mind?

I choose to let it be my care and delight to prepare myself for the remainder of Advent and hope you will too. Beloved in Christ, let us go to Bethlehem, letting fall by the wayside those things that distract us from the journey ahead. We each have the opportunity, with each new day, to do as Baruch invites: “Put on the robe of the righteousness from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting.” There are so many ways to prepare in the time left, from taking up a habit of prayer to fasting and spending time with God in scripture. Whatever my new Advent practice ends up being, it will be done not with obligation and guilt, but with care and delight.

Yours faithfully,

Lindsay Barrett-Adler
Director of Development

P.S. We hope you enjoy Forward Today, one of the many free ministries offered by Forward Movement. You can make a special, year-end gift to inspire disciples and empower evangelists by clicking here.

More from our ministry:

Pray on the go with our podcasts or mobile app

Pray with Mary and Martha: Bible Women

Explore our flagship devotional, Forward Day by Day

A visual devotional for the season: AdventWord