Sometimes, in a church like Cornerstone, we can miss some of the richness and depth available to us though the Church of England's calendar of worship, otherwise called the lectionary. It lays out a number of spiritual seasons, Christian festivals and holy days, daily Bible readings, prayers, and other information which aim to provide believers with spiritual content to enrich their worship of God.
This year I want to connect more fully with the season of Advent which began on Sunday. To that end I intend to post a number of blogs over the next few weeks exploring some of the themes traditionally embraced during Advent.
The season of Advent marks the beginning of the Church year. It is a season of expectation and preparation, as the Church prepares to celebrate the coming (adventus) of Christ in his incarnation, and also looks ahead to his final advent as judge at the end of time. The characteristic note of Advent is therefore expectation and the fundamental Advent prayer remains ‘Maranatha’ – ‘Our Lord, come’ (1 Corinthians 16.22).
In the northern hemisphere, the Advent season falls at the darkest time of the year, and the natural symbols of darkness and light are powerfully at work throughout Advent and Christmas. This brings a healthy dimension to the core theme of Advent: hope. It is true that when everything is going well, there is nothing to hope for. It is in times of struggle, loneliness, rejection, fear, or doubt among others that hope comes in to play. In this sense, the physical darkness of the season with the least hours of sunlight of the year, can convey a sense of longing for the light - or hope - during the season of Advent.
And so today, I leave you with this quote from Sister Stan, an Irish nun who wrote the devotional from which this quote comes from, Gardening The Soul -
'Hope is daring, courageous: it has the audacity to reach a hand into the darkness and come out with a handful of light.'
Blessing and increase,