I am trying to slow down and focus on the season of Advent - of waiting, longing for God, and looking inward. I am seeking quiet and silence, and yet my world seems so loud and busy! Advent is a conundrum for me - the whole meaning of the season against the backdrop of one of the busiest times of year for the church. Not to mention all the invites for parties, concerts, recitals, etc. ad infinum. Into the midst of the craziness of this world comes the Advent of God in the birth of a little baby - not surprising, since it is the birth of a child that stops most of us short in the miracle of it all. Last week I was stopped short by a visit to the emergency room and a two night stay at the hospital. Chest pain, strong and unbearable sent me by ambulance to the hospital. Treatment, tests and discharge. I call this type of event a time warp, because it threw off my days, my schedule, my busy life and forced me to be still. It also refocused my life on gratitude; thankfulness for good medical care, a loving husband, another pastor and a congregations prayers. So maybe the idea during Advent isn't to seek quiet and solitude, maybe it's just opening my eyes and heart to the reality that it was into this crazy world that God came to be with us in all times. Quiet, loud, sad, happy, depressing, and all the moments of life - not to seek out some special feeling of God's presence, but to be aware of it at all times. God is always in the midst whether we notice it or not - it is the promise of the Christ child, Emmanuel, God with us. I'm so grateful for that reality that reconciles the world.