02 December 2007

advent 1

This morning we awoke to a light dusting of snow, marking a definite change in season. Autumn lingered late this year, with leaves on many of the trees even just a few days ago, brilliant with gold and red. But now, looking out the window, a dull gray blankets the landscape, brightened only by patches of white snow and the warm lights of neighbor's windows.

Laurel and Claire (with some help from me) spent the day yesterday decorating the house with greens, ribbons, candles, lights, and shimmering gold, seemingly just in time to meet and push back the dark cold this morning brings. And all is fitting, because today the church year begins anew with Advent.

"Advent" means "approach" or "coming near." Thus, it's a season of anticipation of and preparation for the Lord's drawing near to us.

First, we look forward in hope to the second coming of our Lord when he will set everything right and renew his world. At that time, he will deliver us finally and fully from the world of sin, the flesh, and the devil.

But, second, we also await the Christmas celebration of his first coming, looking back in faith to what God has already done. Living between the times, and unlike God's old covenant people, we know our Lord as the Incarnate One in whom all God's promises for humanity have already come to fulfillment and remain "yes" and "amen."

And, third, we also wait, watch, and pray in the love of Christ who still comes to us now. We find him in the word of the Gospel, holding out God's forgiveness to us. We meet Christ in words of pardon and of blessing, in proclamation and prayer, in bread and wine, in the love of one another, in the stranger and the hungry.

To mark Advent, we use Advent candles, this year in "Sarum blue" rather than the standard purple. The candles are really mostly a kind of time-marker, a visual representation marking out the weeks, a calendar in light - though of course there are naturally overtones of lighting more candles as the days grow shorter and darker, visually reflecting our meditation upon the Light of Christ coming into the world.

I know the first several weeks of Advent will be busy for me, as they always are, with the end of the semester upon us. This doesn't leave much time for original blogging.

Thus, over the next couple of weeks, I'll likely post mostly quotations and reflections from others, pertaining to the season and following from the Sunday lectionary readings.

A blessed Advent to all.