By Joan Mahoney, Council Vice President
Advent is the beginning of a new church year where scripture and tradition beckon us to slow down and wait; a season of anticipation and longing.
The Advent wreath is the most powerful symbol of the season – it can be traced back to the Romans’ ancient rite of waiting in the darkness for the return of the sun, and for the Feast of the Sun on December 25. The ancients took a wheel off of their wagons and fastened torches to it to see them through the darkness. The only thing alive in the winter, evergreen, was brought inside and fastened to the wheel – in darkness, it was a sign of vegetation and springtime. More than 300 years ago, German Christians fashioned the same elements into the Advent wreath – the greens a sign of hope and eternity. What was once the Feast of the Sun has become the Feast of the Son.
Advent wreaths and Advent calendars are symbols and tools of what Advent urges us to do - mark the passage of time as we wait. Advent is about the art of waiting. Now is the time for slowing down and leaning together; and, as with the ancients, we gather in the darkness to wait for the light. And, like the ancients who gathered together for courage and hope that the sun would return, we gather each week to hear the word that does not pass away. The season’s texts give us voice for our brokenness and the promise of the savior.
WEEK 1 of Advent: we are reminded of our desperate need for a God to restore and save. Mark’s gospel warns us to keep alert, stay awake.
WEEK 2 of Advent: we are urged to reorder our lives. As John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord, so do we. We prepare our hearts and homes, not in haste, but in love and with longing.
WEEK 3 of Advent: we who walk in darkness, especially in the season of waiting and watching, also rejoice. God is turning our mourning into laughter and joy. That is good news for people awaiting light. We walk in our own wildernesses, but are called to join the baptized of all generations to testify to the one who brings light and life to a broken world.
WEEK 4 of Advent: the angel Gabriel tells Mary that God will keep His promise to continue the reign of David.
With texts and traditions as guides, this Advent, let us challenge one another to honor these dark days. It is in the waiting that we learn about ourselves and others, taking important steps toward understanding. Over the first four weeks in December, let’s gather together in stillness with confidence that the savior is coming, that Christmas is “on the way”, but not here yet.
Be sure to join us each Sunday in December (3rd, 10th, 17th & Christmas Eve) @ 7PM for our service “Unfailing Light” (an evening service with Holy Communion). A Craft Activity for All will begin @ 6PM. There will be NO morning service on these Sundays.
Slowing down, waiting, and anticipating,
This blog is run by the council members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan, UT. For more information, check out our church's website at princeopeace.org.