Each year, about this time, I encourage you to embrace the Season of Advent. Usually, I encourage you to find moments of stillness and quiet as the frantic pace of the holiday season begins to ramp up, and we begin to feel stressed out by “the most wonderful time of the year.”
But this year there is a different, more urgent, and less self-centered reason to pay attention to the Season of Advent. You, no doubt, have heard dozens of times that Advent means “coming,” and that we are preparing our hearts for the coming of Christ. All of that is certainly true, and just as important as it ever was.
But Advent is also about understanding the world into which Christ is coming; it is about darkness being gradually overcome by light. It is about understanding why there is darkness in the world; and it is about acknowledging where the source of light comes from; it is about reflecting that light in our own life, and in the life of this congregation.
This year, perhaps more than ever, we need to pay attention to and draw insight and inspiration from all the symbols, themes, music, and prayers of Advent. So I encourage you, maybe even beg you, to take Advent seriously, to be intentional about engaging the season. Pay attention to the texts from the wisdom of Scripture, and listen to the words and music of the hymns. Contemplate the meaning of lighting one more candle each week. Reflect on what Advent says about our world, and even more, how Advent points us to the light that has come and is coming. Allow the Season of Advent to prepare and equip you to be that light, perhaps by adopting some disciplines, or by engaging in service of others.
I occasionally like to point out that the color of Advent is violet, the color of the sky just before the light of the rising sun dispels the darkness of night. It is a hopeful reassurance that “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)