From Vicar Amanda’s Desk – December 2013

By Amanda Highben

Waiting in Hope

“So it is that Advent is not about Mary’s pregnancy but about the church’s continual prayer that God will come (the root meaning of ‘advent’) to us, bringing life to a dying world. Advent in the northern hemisphere is a time to meditate on the darkness in the universe, the social order, the lives of many people, and our own hearts, and to pray for God’s salvation and wholeness for all. ” ~ Keeping Time: The Church’s Years (Gail Ramshaw and Mons Teig)

Blue, the color of Advent, signifies hope and waiting. As the darkness gathers and the days grow shorter, Christians hope and wait for Jesus, the Light of the world, to return once more. During Advent, then, we not only prepare for the birth of the Christ child in Bethlehem; we also look forward with eager anticipation to that time when Jesus will arrive again, driving the darkness away for good.

Still, we confess that it’s difficult to hope and wait because our consumer culture would prefer us to be distracted, harried, and stressed…especially now that Black Friday sales begin on Thanksgiving Day. I think the first push I saw to begin shopping early was a Kmart commercial in late September, featuring a gingerbread man sneaking up upon an office worker in her cubicle. The voiceover declared, “Don’t let the holidays sneak up on you! Get in and get more Christmas.” How sad and obnoxious, I sighed; it’s only September! And, of course, the commercial suggested—in not so subtle terms—to “get more.”

But instead of anxiously striving to “get more Christmas” this year, I encourage you to live deeply into the gift that is Advent—to slow down, breathe, be still, to hope, wait and believe that the God who came to us in Jesus still comes to us to us today.

One way that you might do this—that is, live deeply into Advent—is to come to a special midweek Advent worship service on December 18 at St. Luke. On this night at 7 p.m. we are offering a Blue Christmas worship service (sometimes called a Longest Night service because the last Wednesday in Advent is close to December 21, the longest night in the Northern Hemisphere, or the winter solstice, which means literally “standing still.”)

Below is a description of a Blue Christmas service:
“Because of those in our community who have recently lost loved ones or who are living with life-altering circumstances we provide a time and place of solace during the often frenetic days surrounding the celebration of Christmas. Not everyone feels like celebrating. Grief, illness, aging, depression, loneliness, unemployment, and loss are magnified. Even those who are not struggling with losses may feel the stress of preparations and expectations around Christmas” (Sundays and Seasons).

Worship on this night will be quiet and contemplative, inviting those who struggle at Christmas to know God’s comfort and grace, while those of us who aren’t facing loss can support our fellow Christians with our presence, prayers and singing. We hope you will join us and invite your friends and loved ones to be
there too.

As we wait and hope for Jesus’ return, may we all live deeply into God’s gift of Advent this season.

God’s Peace,
Vicar Amanda