It is Advent! A time of anticipation, a time of reflection, of thanks, of excitement. Four Sundays beginning on December 1st mark the days and weeks as we move towards Christmas day.
In the northern hemisphere, we are also marching towards the Winter Solstice, the day of the longest night. It’s no coincidence that the German and Scandinavian Christians created the ceremony of lighting candles to mark each week of Advent. Each week another candle was added, another source of illumination. In Oslo, Norway this year the sun won’t rise until 8:41am and will set at 3:36pm, just 6 hours and 45 minutes of light. More candles and more light becomes part of the celebration.
This year our Advent series isn’t focused on light but rather on the darkness. All too often we look at the world as binaries, good/bad, simple/complex, light/dark, but that isn’t the world is it? No one person ‘all good’ or ‘all bad.’ Nothing is really all that simple, everything has a little bit of complexity and even in the depth of the night there is a beauty. If you don’t believe me go somewhere away from the street lights and on a clear night look up you will see the heavens unfold before your very eyes.
Even the Advent candles are made more special because of the holiness of the darkness. Don’t believe me? Light four candles outside in the middle of a sunny day. Not exactly spectacular. Now light the same four at night in a dark room and watch the flames bring the room to life!
Each Sunday of Advent we are going to examine, to experience, the holiness of the darkness. You recall in Genesis that God created both the night and the day? God created both, and both are ‘good. Each Sunday we will hear the same stories we hear at Christmas, the angels, the shepherds, the manger, Joseph and Mary but we will see what an important role darkness plays in each story.
So come this Advent and share the darkness together. Wrap yourself in it, let your soul rest there. Come and relish not only the day but the glories of the evenings. Come and light a candle together to see in the darkness the holy, the wonder, the beauty that God has created for you.