Sunday, November 30th,marks the beginning of Advent in Christian churches all over the world. It is the beginning of the liturgical church year and helps us take the baby steps needed as we head toward Christmas. It is a remarkable season as it tries to help the people of faith mark the birth of Emmanuel, ,God-with-Us, while at the same time looking to the day when the Way of God will be the way of the world. For those of us in the northern hemisphere,these two messages get wrapped up in the darkness of winter days and all the metaphorical images of light and dark that become the walk of our daily path. If this weren't enough to ponder, we have the commercial giants clamoring for our attention and our dollars. It can be an overwhelming time for even the most grounded person.
Today's blog message marks the third year I've reflected on Advent as a part of Pause. It all started out as a simple Advent meditation and three years later I find myself still writing nearly every day. It has become an important spiritual practice for me. But as I began to reflect on Advent this year, I began to think of something Bruce Robbins, our senior minister, said a few weeks ago. He said that reading scripture was a little like peeling an onion. There are so many layers, so many ways to read it, so many levels, so much to take into account in the reading. There are historical and literary perspectives to consider in addition to language translations. There are also the changes that continue to take place in our own lives to consider. As I read these familiar scriptures this year, I am not the same person I was last year or the year before and that impacts my reading, my understanding.In addition to the hoped-for wisdom of living, each of us have known joys and sorrows, loss and success over the last year. That has changed us in some way
Jan L. Richardson in her book Night Visions searching the shadows of Advent and Christmas, explains it like this: "As I have grown, I have gained an appreciation for how many ways there are to tell a story. Take the story of Christmas.We can tell it as the story of an unwed mother who dared to enter into partnership with God to bring forth new life; as a political story about the birth of a revolutionary; as a tale about a love that longed so much for us that it took flesh, formed in the dark womb of a woman who share her body and her blood to bring it forth. We can tell it as a story about darkness giving birth to light, about seemingly endless waiting, and about that which lies at the end of all our waiting."
As we begin the walk into Advent, maybe it is a good time to think back over the last year. How are you different than you were? How have you grown, changed ? How will you hear the story of Christmas this year? How will it be
different from before? What has happened in your life that might
help you experience this story in a new way?
The darkness surrounds us. And we are a people waiting for the Light. Waiting…..watching…..hoping……praying….for that glimpse of God-with-us.