A Season of Light and Mystery
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
Advent comes again this month, marking the change from one liturgical (worship) year to the next. Advent means beginning, and it marks both the beginning of the year and our wait from the coming of Christ. We wait.
In a culture that seems to rush right into Christmas sometime around July 5th, we the followers of Christ wait. In the view of the whole story, we are waiting for Christ to come again in the Resurrection. In the view of the story of Scripture, we are waiting in remembrance of the prophecies and people who waited for Jesus’ appearing.
Each year I have an arc for the year, a sort of basic theme that we keep coming back to in our worship and study. This past year we have looked consistently at Discipleship as a way of understanding Christian practice, stewardship, mission, and way of life. This coming year, we will be looking at Light and Mystery.
Advent always has an image for me of the faithful follower holding a candle, protecting it in the soft dark of early winter. The world is a world of mystery. The modern world defined itself in terms of rationalism and the sorting of truth and lie, fact and fiction, what we could figure out and what we could know with certainty. But the most secure fields of physics and astronomy, who lead the way into certainty, have become fields of mystery where forces move in unexpected ways and objects interact invisibly, leading us away from certainty toward postmodernity.
We live in a world of mystery. The light of faith can be understood as a “this I trust” statement in a world where knowing is felt out with little total vision. I trust the teachings of Jesus about the God, the world, and human beings, in a world where such trust seems dim and slight against all that we do not know.
It seems so, but faith tells us that a little light cannot be overcome by any darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:5. So we gather in Advent around our small candles of faith in the midst of a world seeming to grow dark and discover a light stronger than our accumulation.
The light of Christ comes quietly and mysteriously into the world, in surprising places to surprised people who are willing to say "yes" to the Word that comes and to venture out into the adventures of faith.
The Advent study this year is again centered in the Book of Common Prayer, and I will be co-teaching with our director of adult formation Rosemary Hagan. I will teach the candle bits--the BCP parts, and Rosemary will show us how to carry that light into the mysteries of God’s presence in prayer. Please bring your Bible and Prayer Book for each class. Childcare and dinner will part of the program.
I have been looking forward to Advent for several months now, with the greening of the church, a new Advent candelabra and stations, the blue of mystery and waiting, and the changes to liturgy. A new year in our worship together to discover how this light of Christ changes everything we see.
In His light,