Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (found here)
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Advent began last Sunday. And I am filled with hope.
Which is as it should be.
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This is the season where we long for Jesus’ second coming while remembering his first coming. We long for the consummation of all things while we remember the liberation he has brought us. We hope for the day when Heaven shall crash into earth and all our swords will be beaten into ploughshares. We remember the world into which he was born—the world ruled by the sword and by oppressive empires. We long for the day when the material world will be set right, when the flesh will operate in harmony with the spirit.
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Advent is a season that occurs as winter begins. Many of our traditions—like lighting the Christmas tree, lighting the advent wreath every night, and putting out Christmas lights—are related to the idea of giving light and heat as the dark and cold descends on us. Central heating, electricity, and living in Texas has made setting evergreens on fire for heat and light impractical, unnecessary, and costly. Nevertheless, hope is symbolized in heat and light in the midst of cold, bleak darkness.
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Most Western churches that make use of liturgical colors agree on the color scheme. Green for ordinary time. Purple for Lent. White/Gold for Christmas and Epiphany. However, for Advent, there is a conflict. The Catholics use purple because, historically, purple is a penitential color and Advent has been treated as a penitential season. But another tradition, going back to the Middle Ages, uses blue for Advent. This is because blue is symbolic of hope. It is also a royal color long associated with the Virgin Mother and the Christ-child. A lot of Anglican churches (including the one I used to regularly attend in Abilene) and large swaths of Mainline Protestant churches use blue, and I couldn’t agree more. Blue is the color of the winter night sky in which the magi saw the star. Blue, surrounding the light, gives us hope.
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your advent alarms us.
Wake us from drowsy worship,
from the sleep that neglects love,
and the sedative of misdirected frenzy.
Awaken us now to your coming,
and bend our angers into your peace. Amen. (found here)