For months I’ve waited for Advent the way a kid waits for Christmas, and I’m not missing a single opportunity to celebrate the new year: candlelit wreaths, tacky lights, retreats, parties, prayer beads. This Sunday, I’ll make my first sandwich contribution to Martha’s Table. Friends warn me of overdosing on Cathedral activities, but it’s useless. I’m in the honeymoon stage of this relationship as a new member of a church known as a house of prayer for all people. Even me.

A few months ago, in Ordinary Time, I sat in Vicar Dana’s office sharing how the story of my faith journey more closely resembles a descent into doubt. I take my unbelief seriously and make no secret of it. But even in spite of myself, I can’t help wanting to belong to this community of faith. Am I a hypocrite? Is there a place in this congregation for one who, as Adam Gopnik puts it, is “drawn to faith while practicing doubt?”

“I can’t imagine anyplace God would rather you be right now,” Vicar Dana said, in a response that honored the integrity of both her faith and my doubt.

It is together, not alone, that we best live answers into the question Peter asks in today’s lectionary: “Since all these things are to be dissolved… what sort of persons ought you to be?” (2 Peter 3:11). The whole point of all this celebrating Advent is to immerse myself in a community that is walking with integrity toward the light of something new and mysterious but earnestly desired by all of us.

One practice I learned this Advent involves a tactile form of prayer using Anglican prayer beads. A workshop led by the Rev. Sally Slater on the second Sunday of Advent inspired this prayer formula for the doubter:

Cross: The light of the world comes to all who question in darkness.
Invitatory bead: We await with joy the mystery that waits for us.
Cruciform beads: We do not wait alone; together, we are at home.
Week beads:
[1] Be at home in the house of prayer.
[2] The house of prayer honors trust and doubt.
[3] The house of prayer welcomes our questions.
[4] The house of prayer lives into answers.
[5] The house of prayer holds even our darkness.
[6] The light shines amid our darkness.
[7] Our darkness cannot extinguish the light.