Closing Time; Advent and New Beginnings
In the spring of 1998, as I was approaching the end of my sophomore year of high school (and much of Wake Div’s student body was still in elementary school), the one-hit wonder Semisonic released a song called “Closing Time” (need a reminder?). With its catchy tune, the song became quite the earworm. Though its lyrics are particularly unremarkable, the last line of the song has stuck with me for the last fourteen and a half years:
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
The season of Advent began on Sunday. It is the beginning of the church year, the time when we return to the start of the Gospel stories, the time when we prepare for the coming of Christ. And while I embraced the arrival of Advent with my usual gusto, it was a little bittersweet for me this year. You see, as I stood in the pulpit at First Christian Church on Sunday morning, clad in my Navy dress blue uniform, delivering a message centered on the annunciation of John the Baptist, a thought hit me: this is my last Advent as a lay person.
In just over five months, I will graduate from Wake Div. After three years of being in intentional community with a rather small group of people – some of whom have become as close as family – I will walk out of Wingate Hall for the last time as a student, and by the end of May, I will be an ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It seems like I just got here, but before long, it will be over.
And that’s not the only “last”. Monday was my last day of CPE at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham. An intense unit of 400 hours in three and a half months time, it led to a whirlwind semester that seemed to go from 200 miles per hour to a dead stop in the amount of time it took me to drive out of the parking deck for the last time. It doesn’t feel like it should be over, but it is.
My last Advent as a lay person. My last few months at Wake Div. My last days of CPE. So many beginnings coming to an end – and not just for me. For everybody graduating in the class of 2013, this journey that feels like it just began a few weeks ago will end before too long.
But the flip side of that is that there is a new beginning there for each one of us. When we leave Wake Forest for the last time, it will be to go out into the world and look for new beginnings – pastorates, non-profits, teaching positions, post-grad work. And it seems appropriate that, in this season of preparation, we look for these new beginnings in some other beginning’s end.