It's clear that a church near my home has put a new person in charge of their sign, because they have gone from the typical staid church announcements to the jokes that you sometimes see on such signs. Today I noticed that the sign says "Beat the Christmas rush. Come this Sunday." It's a good reminder in our season of preparations that we should still focus on the present moment.
It's so easy for a Lutheran church musician to succumb to the cycle of Reformation-Thanksgiving-Christmas-Easter-Pentecost, constantly preparing for the next festival and shortchanging the services in between. Every piece of music related mail that I've received in the past month has mentioned Lent and/or Easter. We're always preparing for the next thing.
I'm reminded of a sermon I once heard about the joy of being a post-Easter people. The minister's point was that there is no longer a need to prepare for Christmas or Easter, because the holidays we celebrate are simply anniversaries and reminders of events that we know well and traditions that we cherish. We are preparing ourselves for a larger mission and life ahead of us than simply a date on the calendar.
Musically, I was thinking too of music that reminds us of the importance of every day. There are no "minor Sundays" or "lesser festivals." Perhaps no better text sums up that attitude than Psalm 118 (often set to music, from Sunday schools to concert music): "This is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Just like the journey is sometimes more important than the destinations, it seems to me that the preparations of Advent are actually the highlight - the main dish that comes before the dessert of Christmas.