One of the strongest themes of the Advent season is the emergence of light out of darkness. During the short days of the year’s closing, we wait for Christ’s coming—for his birth as a baby in Bethlehem and for his coming again in the full glory of his Kingdom. We light candles on the Advent wreath during this season as a sign of the hope that sustains us in our waiting. We watch and pray.
This year we are experiencing the darkness more intensely, in the aftermath of the recent terror attacks in Paris. Our present darkness, the “wars and rumors of wars” of our time, can easily distract us from the truth revealed in scripture: that God will make, is making, all creation new and that God loves us and wants us to know the fullness of life and joy in Him. Under the onslaught of constant media coverage of world events, we can easily give way to fear, to anger, and to despair. We can forget that the true narrative of our lives is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
For this reason, it is especially important for us to be faithful this season in our prayers and in our worship. An Advent devotional booklet was mailed to each household in the Cathedral Family in the November Messenger. Please use this as part of your personal time of prayer and reflection each day between now and Christmas. Special materials for children and families will be available on the ministry table in the Chapter House, as well. We will worship with Advent Lessons and Carols at 4:00 p.m. on December 6; this is an especially powerful way to focus heart and mind on God’s promises in scripture and the beauty and hope of their fulfillment. On the second and third Wednesdays of Advent (December 9 and 16), our midday Eucharist in the Chapel moves to 11:30 a.m., followed by music in the Church at noon and then lunch in the Chapter House. This quiet time in the middle of the day in the middle of a hectic season is a good way to slow down and remember why we are preparing so fervently. You will not want to miss our annual Children’s Christmas Pageant during our worship on Sunday, December 20; it will bring you great joy and bolster your hopes!
In our recent gospel lessons, Jesus has told us, in times like these, not to be alarmed, not to be led astray. We need to be persistent in prayer, to spend time with scripture, to be faithful in worship, and to concentrate on loving one another, loving others, and doing good deeds wherever we see an opportunity.
Our new Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, has reminded us that we are part of the “Jesus Movement.” That movement, Jesus has told us, should expect resentment and resistance, but we should not give in to anxiety or fear. The movement should expect hostility, but we should also expect to endure. The Jesus Movement will endure because the One who loved us, who came to live as one of us and gave himself for us, is faithful. We should be, too.
During Advent, we will look toward the “end times,” the coming-again of Jesus, even as we look toward his birth in Bethlehem. We should live in the light of hope for both of his comings. We can be confident in our hope that our present darkness will give way to his new day.
The Very Reverend Beverly F. Gibson, Ph.D., Dean