As we lit the first candle on the Advent wreath, a kind of quiet reverence fell throughout the church, beyond even what is typical on a Sunday morning when worship begins with the ringing of 3 chimes.
It’s a relatively simply act. Someone reads a few verses of Scripture or a short prayer. We pause as the candle is lit. We resume with a shared response. The pattern varies a little from year to year, but its close enough for everyone to recognize, “We’ve done this before. We do this every year.” It has become an expected tradition for us, perhaps even a kind of liturgy. And this year, this brief moment in worship seemed to carry more significance than I’ve noticed before.
In a world that is constantly changing, in which so much seems uncertain – for many of us, in our own personal lives as much as in life around us – we need touchpoints that assure us that some things are certain. The seasons of the Christian year can provide that for us, with their familiar liturgies and traditions and texts and songs. They reaffirm for us that God is, and that God has a good purpose and plan; that Christ has come and does come to us; that God’s Spirit continues to move and abide with us, in spite of and in the very midst of the turmoil or anxieties we face.
I think that is why the lighting of the Advent wreath candles brought an attentive hush to our worship this year, more than I’ve noticed before. And it is why I encourage you enter into the familiar routines of this season with open and expectant hearts. Especially, don’t miss our Christmas eve service, Sunday December 24 at 9 PM, which truly glows with candlelight and memory and good news. I think you’ll hear God saying, “It’s okay. I’m still with you.”