We are coming with joyful anticipation to the culmination of our focus on the Advent theme — Calm and Bright. This Sunday we will be focusing on the star of hope the Magi followed to the Christ child. Yes, I know I am putting the "cart before the horse" so to speak" since the story of the Magi visiting Jesus and his family usually falls around Epiphany Sunday. However, as some have asked during the sermon series, I have taken some liberties to the "traditional timeline" for lighting of the Advent candles. This Sunday has been normally devoted to the theme of love. But there is a method to my madness. I used the format designed by Marcia McFee! Her creativeness has led you and me toward Christmas Eve and a "Silent Night" with the possibility that we will all find "calmness and brightness" in the midst of a world in disarray.
During this Advent season we have down such things as crossing the threshold from the frantic pace of the holidays into the realm of a "calmness and brightness" offered by the scripture stories and the words to the beloved carol "Silent Night." Throughout the liturgy we have had opportunities to enter into a time of peaceful prayer, offering prayers of joyful anticipation for the coming of the Christ Child, praying for those who have offered us "grace-full love." We have sang songs that remind us of God's peace, joy, love, and hope. We have gathered together in the sacrament of communion to remember how God offered us "Love's True Light" in human form through Jesus. And this past Sunday, the choir provided us the message of music that, for me, verified the calmness and brightness of this Season!
I hope that little by little you have been taken to a place of calmness and brightness this Advent Season by being part of our worship experience. In a world where growing numbers of people ignore or neglect the gift of life and love offered to all in the form of the Messiah, Dorothy Day reminds each of us what happens when people connect to the Christmas story, and what happens even if they turn away from this gift.
In Christ's life there were always a few who made up for the neglect of the crowd. The shepherds did it; their hurrying to the crib atoned for the people who would flee from Christ. The wise men did it; their journey across the world made up for those who refused to stir one hand's breadth from the routine of their lives to go to Christ. Even the gifts the wise men brought have in themselves an obscure recompense and atonement for what would follow later in this Child's life. For they brought gold, the king's emblem, to make up for the crown of thorns that he would wear; they offered incense, the symbol of praise, to make up for the mockery and the spitting; they gave him myrrh, to heal and soothe, and he was wounded from head to foot and no one bathed his wounds. The women at the foot of the cross did it too, making up for the crowd who stood by and sneered. — Dorothy Day, By Little and By Little: The Selected Writings of Dorothy Day. (Knopf, 1983), p. 96.
I hope you will be able to join us at our Christmas Eve Service on Monday, December 24th at 7:00 PM. Please note the change of time this year for the service. I understand that we will have a visitor to help each of us connect to the story concerning the origin of "Silent Night," and why it is being celebrated on the 200th anniversary of its debut.
If you will not be with us for that service, I wish you a calm and bright Christmas!