Monday, November 21, 2005

Trouble and Hope: My Advent Calendar

Sunday is the beginning of Advent (in Western Christianity). If that seems early, you're right - it never falls earlier than the 27th. Edwin Searcy suggests holding a New Year's Eve party on the 26th, to celebrate the turning of the church year. If you're thinking "Oh, no, not another party date to be commercialized," - wait. Searcy writes:
Advent begins with trouble. This is the odd counter-cultural movement of the Christian year. Just when the stores are in full swing, with jingling bells providing encouragement to shoppers and their credit cards, along comes Advent. Advent is a blue season. It is the season that tells the truth about the blues. It is the season that refuses to ignore the troubles that plague the world, the nations, the church, the family, the soul. Advent is the deep blue of the morning, just as the dark night is coming to an end.

. . . . The first text of the first Sunday of Advent this year begins: "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down." (Isaiah 64:1) . . . .

. . . . Advent is an invitation to linger with odd texts that take the church deep into the ache and grief that cries out for a saviour. Instead, we reduce it to four safe platitudes: hope, peace, joy, love. Christmas is a journey into the vulnerability of God's redemptive mission. The saviour cannot escape the troubles--born into obscurity, hunted down by the powers. How much of this fragility and danger remain in our festivities?
Gathering, A/C/E 2005-6: Reflections for the Season: Advent Begins with Trouble

I don't know if I'll get around to organizing the party for Saturday. But I am thinking about an "Advent Calendar" series, with photos, news links, and other tidbits of honesty about our troubled world, along with chinks of starlight and hints of the dawn - the hope, peace, joy and love that are always coming into the world anew.

And if I don't deliver any of that, there is still church. Any church. The First of Advent is a wonderful time to begin.


Madcap said...

Advent and Lent were two of the most grounding things that I found in the liturgical church when I converted. It makes sense to have a time of introspection and abstinence before a feast day, so much more reflective of the cycles of our lives.

arcolaura said...

And when the feast day does arrive, it comes as the answer to the questioning and introspection, instead of as a jarring jolt of forced cheer among the perpetual newscasts and seasonal obligations. I deeply appreciate Lent, too. And call me morbid if you like, but one of my favourite services in the entire church year is Blue Christmas, a quiet reflective service offered for those who are grieving or otherwise finding it difficult to appreciate the jolly atmosphere of most Christmas events.

Not that I don't love a good party. I just love it even more when I have taken the time to embrace the hurts and struggles first. Then I really know why I'm celebrating.