What does joyful anticipation feel like in a post-pandemic world?
Something we anticipate each year in the Children, Youth, and Family Ministry is the Bishop’s Pageant, a cherished holiday tradition for many. Our excitement is heightened this year because we will offer our first in-person Pageant since 2019. Racks of costumes are being rolled out of storage, casting calls made for a multitude of angels, and a donkey prepared by its loving hander for its journey to Bethlehem (via the South Bay).
At the same time, we are monitoring the high rate of respiratory illnesses in the Bay Area and the particular impact this has on the young and other vulnerable groups. This is shaping our planning for the Pageant.
Some changes to the Pageant this year include asking all attendees to register in advance to attend and inviting participants and audience members to wear masks. Further adjustments, under the guidance of our Diocesan leadership, may be necessary.
This introduces a note of caution into one of the most glorious displays of unbridled joy the cathedral offers. The excited correspondence I have had with families preparing to come to the pageant – in some cases, a pageant they have been attending for the past decade or longer – leaves me with no doubt that this day will still be the joyous event we are all anticipating.
The last few years have demonstrated the great capacity of the Grace Cathedral community to experience profound joy in any circumstance, regardless of what unanticipated developments occur around us. Individually and as members of a great family, we may need to continue to remain vigilant this Advent season, to respond to unanticipated changes that lead to us masking where we would rather smile at each other, spending a day at home where we would prefer to be at our beloved cathedral.
We can still anticipate the joy that awaits us this season. It is a joy we felt ripple around us during our service to mark the start of Advent last Sunday, embodied in the fragrant wreaths we wove and candles we lit. It is a joy that will wash over us during our beloved Advent Procession this Sunday, as well as the Advent Tea that will follow it, with its glorious cornucopia of sweets and opportunity to peruse the wares of our beloved Stitching Ministry. It is a joy we can anticipate eddying through the concerts, services, Advent Sale, series on contemplative practices, and myriad other ways to experience this most special of seasons.
Most of all, it is the joy unbounded we anticipate as we look towards Christmas.
God is with us always, holding us in every joyful and challenging moment. Nothing can prevent the Advent of the Christ Child. This is the great Good News of Christmas we receive each year, the joyful promise that no other circumstance can diminish.
Thank you for being part of the Grace family!