I recently was invited to share some musings about Advent at a Jewish/Christian Interfaith Solstice service in Helena. Advent is the season in the Chrisitan tradition in which we prepare for the coming of Christ. We hope that in the darkness a light will come to change the world. I share these musings, so that you may use them in your Advent traditions now, or whenever a season of preparation strikes you.
Remember that Christian Advent occurs during the darkest part of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. For this reason the darkness draws us to light. In that tradition Christians light 5 candles. One each week before Christmas and the final one on Christmas. These musing are for the lighting of the first 4 candles.
Some Musings on Advent….
One day earlier this week as I got out of the shower I had an epiphany, lets call it a post shower epiphany.
Now, I realize this is long before the Christian Holiday Epiphany, but the epiphany was about Advent. And this was an Epiphany about things my family had not been doing this Advent Season.
My wife and I had developed a hopeful tradition two years ago that we might take $20 for each of us. That $10 of that we would be to buy simple gifts to share throughout the Advent season. The other $10 would go to a charitable giving, something we would support. Now this isn’t a lot of money, but the times we have done this the gift giving has been extremely meaningful. The post shower epiphany I had on December 18, 1 short week from Christmas, is that we had forgot this tradition.
For many of us this lead up to Christmas, this dark season is a time of speeding up,being busy. One fellow I talked to on Sunday who was a musician said he had 30+ performances between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is shopping, time with family, special events…….we continue speeding along. When will we slow down.
(LIGHT FIRST CANDLE)
I mused in a Tweet about 3 months ago, if we switched our gas peddles and our brake peddles how long would the world slow down for. We don’t seem to slow down, even when days get darker and the world is calling, almost screaming for us to slow down. You would think we might follow the advice many of us receive growing up…when you can’t see in the dark slow down and really feel your way carefully forward or seek some small light to help you on your way.
(Light Second Candle)
In the rush of the season I had been gathering things up to leave the house one evening. My 21 month old daughter was coming with me and as I walked out of the house I hit the final light. It was completely dark…and all I heard was “Dad.” My daughter was doing what we all need to do in the dark. Stopping to call out for a little light so that we might see along our way.
As we prepared for this service, Marianne Niesen our Senior Pastor here at St. Paul’s shared this advent story with me, by Gertrude Mueller Nelson.
“Pre-Christian peoples who lived far north and who suffered the archetypal loss of life and light with the disappearance of the sun had a way of wooing back life and hope. Ancient people did not separate the natural world from their religious or mystical yearning, so nature and mystery remained combined. As the days grew shorter and colder and the sun threatened to abandon the earth, these ancient people suffered a sort of guilt and separation anxiety which we all know. Their solution was to bring all ordinary action and daily routine to a halt. They gave in to the nature of winter, came away from their fields and put away their tools. They removed the wheels from their carts and wagons, festooned them with greens and lights and brought them indoors to hang in their halls. They brought the wheels indoors as a sign of a different time, a time to stop and turn inward. They engaged the feelings of cold and fear and loss. Slowly, slowly they wooed the sun-god back. And light followed darkness. Morning came earlier. The festivals announced the return of hope after primal darkness.
This kind of success – hauling the very sun back: the recovery of hope – can only be accomplished when we have the courage to stop and wait and engage fully in the winter of our longing.
Imagine what would happen if we were to understand that ancient prescription for this season literally and remove – just one – say just the right front tire from our cars or trucks and use it for our Advent wreath. Indeed, things would stop. Our daily routines would come to a halt and we would have the leisure to incubate. We could attend to out precarious pregnancy and look after ourselves. Having to stay in, we would lose the opportunity to escape or deny feelings or becomings because our cars could not bring us away to the circus of our culture.”
(LIGHT 4th Candle)
As we pray tonight for peace and as we celebrate our traditions, let us remember that peace in our own hearts and a little time with a tire off our car might bring those meaningful epiphanies in a more timely manner. In fact we may totally avoid a post show epiphany.
May we all find our tires in our living spaces decorated with greens with small voices asking to have a light for our path. All so we might find some inner peace and share that peace with the world.