Rev Gal's Mother Laura hosts this week's Friday Five. She says: Can you believe that in two days we'll be halfway through Advent? Gaudete Sunday: pink candle on the advent wreath, rose vestments for those who have them, concerts and pageants in many congregations. Time to rejoice! Rejoice in the nearness of Christ's coming, yes, but also in the many gifts of the pregnant waiting time when the world (in the northern hemisphere, at least) spins ever deeper into sweet, fertile darkness.
What makes you rejoice about:
Anticipation is one of the best things in life. The anticipation of a longed-for journey, anticipation of a friend's visit, planning for special occasions--that is sometimes the best part of the event. Baking cookies and filling the house with fragrance is more satisfying than eating them. For me, this Advent season is like that. The waiting makes the arrival all the sweeter.
I rejoice that in the darkness, the light of one small candle shines all the brighter. Darkness comes before dawn, and darkness makes us appreciate the light. Here in the upper midwest, days of dreary, gray "darkness" are all too common. However, they serve to make days like today (bright blue sky, sparkling sunshine on snow) all the more welcome. Without having been in darkness we would never know just how wonderful the light can be.
I'm sensing a trend in my answers. Again, it is the contrast. I grew up in sunny Southern California. Spring is lovely almost everywhere, but I had no idea what spring can be like until living in a very cold climate where spring is longed for like a lost love. I've posted many times on this blog, proably too many, about how I long for spring. Without the deep white snow, the frost, the cold, the ice, the apparent "death" of all that is green and growing, spring would be--well nice. But here spring is so much more than nice. It transforms our world, ignites our hope and energy and brings smiles to faces.
As a Southern Baptist in California, I never heard of Advent. Then as a Pentecostal in the south and on the east coast I never did either. The first time I recall seeing an Advent wreath was visiting a Lutheran church with Ken (who had been invited to speak to the youth group). This was about 1975 in Washington DC, and they had an enormous one hanging from their vaulted ceiling. I gazed up at it and I remember wanting to know what it was about. So I did a little research and that was that. Much later, here in Catholic/Lutheran Wisconsin, I learned more about Advent at our former (Assemblies of God) church. I loved the traditions that church maintained, and I've continued similar ones here. Some AG churches here have Advent customs and Advent wreaths. Most probably do not--but that is sad to me. It is the pondering, the waiting, the sense of light growing each week as the the celebration of Christ's coming draws nearer--it is the best part of the holiday season. It makes Christmas all the more joyous. Our Advent wreath has white candles this year, and the Christ candle is red--but that's for another post.
5. Jesus' coming?
It changed everything. It still does, for those who open the door and allow him in. It changes everything. The words of an old song I first heard many years ago at Angelus Temple in Los Angeles (my first visit to a Pentecostal church, and I was scared, but the music....oh!). It wasn't that it was so skillfully done, it was the heartfelt love and emotion in the voices and faces of the youth choir that sang:
Without Him I would be nothing,
Without Him, I'd surely fail,
Without Him, I would be drifting,
Like a ship without a sail.
Okay, it is perhaps not great poetry, but it is so true for me. Withouht Jesus Christ, I would have nothing. It's not a cliche. It is true. I could tell you stories...