Today feels a little more like Christmas at our house. We put up our tree and decorated it this morning. Until today, we’ve only had a wreath on the front door and have been waiting. This Advent season I have felt more peaceful, more intentional about the pace of our days.
Recently, I have been thinking about being in the dark, both the literal darkness of short days and the figurative darkness of uncertainty and worry. That’s because I just read Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark. In it, she describes how we are taught to fear the dark, and how she was always afraid of dark rooms or being outside long after dark. For her, darkness is also about existential doubt and the fear of death.
by Bishop Mary Glasspool
One nickname for the Third Sunday in Advent is Stir-up Sunday, from the opening words of Collect for the Day: Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us! This gets us ready (if we aren’t already!) for the shocking words of Luke’s Gospel — in which John the Baptist storms around the desert screaming at the people who have come out to be baptized by him: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance.
Marvin Gaye and Pope Francis. Mercy, mercy me.
I am a person who relates to the world through music – everything that happens reminds me of a song. Which then lives in my head until the next one drills in. When Pope Francis swung open the Holy Door of the Vatican this week to usher in The Year of Mercy, I went back to my junior year of high school and the great Marvin Gaye.
Several years ago, my family and I were walking in a very dry and rocky place in the eastern Mojave dessert. The sun and the dessert air took the moisture out of our skin and throats. There was no vegetation to speak of. As we climbed over a boulder, there poking out of a crack in the rock, was a tiny flower. It was very surprising and mysterious, and I think it was like Advent.
Sitting in the chair at the oral surgeon’s office on Tuesday waiting for my tooth to numb, in preparation for a root canal, I realized I was breathing in the meditative way I learned in a Lamaze preparation-for-childbirth class 41 years ago. The breathing calmed my anxiety as I waited.
We need a little Christmas. Right this very minute.
I could be the poster child for “Advent Purity.” I grew up in a home where the Christmas tree was put up on Christmas Eve, not a day earlier – not for religious reasons, but family tradition. I started my professional church life as a Liturgy Director, and well, you don’t want to tussle with a Liturgy Director about when Christmas actually begins. I once got into a legal dispute with my Homeowner’s Association because they made me take my wreath down before Epiphany. I’ve loosened a little – our tree goes up the Sunday before Christmas, only because I always work on Christmas Eve.