Advent 2010 Lead Kindly Light

Image above from here 

I guess it may be a little  early to post this but I can always add /update and  as the image says you do not know when the time will come so i am getting in early, just in case !
The season of Advent, the time of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas and the start of the liturgical year in the Roman Catholic Church, begins this year on the First Sunday in Advent, November 28, 2010.
The readings for Catholics for the  new liturgical year will be drawn from Cycle B. 
Readings can be found here

The mood of Advent is sometimes described as  "hopeful solemnity", (but see video at the end !) and is mirrorerd in the cycle of Nature's own season. 

Liturgically, there are a few changes. The colour of the stole (the long scarf) will go from green which is used during "regular time" (during Pentecost and from Epiphany to Lent) to  purple...Purple is the  traditional colour that symbolizes repentance and sorrow for sin.

On the third Sunday of Advent, the liturgical colour changes, for one Sunday only, from purple to "rose" because that is the Sunday traditionally set aside to honour the faith and faithfulness of Mary.

So what's the theme then ?? 


I came across these free resources :
Link here to Arundel and Brighton Diocese Reflections under the theme "Lead Kindly Light" and also daily reflections from their Youth Service from here

Talking of light, there are some special illuminating events at this time of the year worth a closer look. 

The Aurora Borealis light display or Northern Lights are  a magnificent natural spectacle particularly visible in polar regions and can be seen illuminating the Northern Horizon as a greenish or red glow.
They are a great way to help us reflect on the Light of The World that leads us on " amid the encircling gloom ",  to uplift our hearts to focus  on the Holy Time of Advent and Christmas and help us refresh our lives in one community of faith. 
The photographer Kristján Unnar Kristjansson went to extraordinary lengths over the last nine years to capture the amazing light show in all its glory. 
The 31-year-old says he often drives to remote, light-pollution free locations to get the best view. 
This often means he drives around 10,000-15,000 kilometres for the perfect shot - but it's worth it.
"No words can properly describe the experience,” said Mr Kristjansson.
“Even though I've seen them now and again throughout my life, I'm still awe-inspired and flabbergasted every time they show up."

Can you see a parallel here with the story of the Three kings doggedly travelling miles to Bethlehem, the frozen shepherds trudging across fields towards the manger, probably feeling decidely "bewitched, bothered and almost certainly a little bewildered " at what it was all about. 
They were expecting a King and all they got was a baby !

I've seen many Christmases throughout my life and in truth  it gets harder to arrive at its real message.
The  mood of the season is more often that of Scrooge -- Humbug!!! 
People may greet us with a "Merry Christmas," but often we feel anything but merry. 
By the time we get to the last week of Advent we're tired, grumpy, and a bit short of joy or hope.
 Yet somewhere amongst the tawdry tinsel and the ever increasing madness of the commercial shenanigans,  it is also true that I am still awe -inspired and flabbergasted by it and yes, I am amazed  that Jesus still bothers to show up every year !!
Thinking of another celebration of light : On 23rd December, it is worth remembering that Hanukkah , the Jewish Celebration of the Festival of Light was celebrated by Christ as a Jew.

So Hanukkah is not just a Jewish celebration as it commemorates an event that can be enjoyed by anyone who loves God and/or believes in religious liberty.  
We all can share a common spiritual heritage
 It is sad that The Season of Advent and the Season of Christmas can be a cause for division between people of faith /no faith.
It is also a sad fact that  an increasing number of people  can see no "reason for the Season." 

So my Advent / Christmas wishes and prayers
That we could take a fresh look at the Christmas tree 
stand awhile under its lights,
 to bathe in the light of God 
and ponder  deeply the message of Jesus Christ, who said:
" I am The Light of The World."
On The first Sunday of Advent  we light the Candle of Hope. 
I pray that during the coming four weeks of preparations we can enrich our faith,
that we can seek to be refreshed and renewed as individuals; that we may be given the strength to make new bonds , and remake broken bonds within our families and with all faiths. 
To walk in hope, as a Christian, to be optimistic in a world often full of brutality is not easy.

But it is to live with a sense of purpose, knowing that we walk in the presence of the living God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. 

With that sense of purpose, we can light the first candle of Advent.

Gustav Niebuhr, a former New York Times religion writer and now a Professor 
of Religion and Public communication at Syracuse University has tackled one of the most vexing issues of our time. That issue is the place of religion in public life and the relationships between religious communities in an increasingly pluralistic world. In his book, Beyond Tolerance, he has this to say :

When Norman Rockwell painted his Freedom of Worship painting, he focused on the diversity of Americans at prayer, and boldly imprinted in this picture is the motto: “Each according to the dictates of his own conscience.” 
He points out that while the painting focuses on the individual, there is also embedded within it a sense of community.

“The  people occupy an equal plane and they face (more or less) in the same direction, toward the painting’s left, the source of the painter’s light, which illuminates their faces. 
What goes on here is not something we do entirely alone; there are others, different from us, who do it too, and they are persons of worth and dignity.” 
Some Inuits believed that the spirits of their ancestors could be seen in the Northern lights and as I look at these beautiful images I too am inspired by the  knowledge and faith of all the those who have lived before me whose spiritual heritage I share in.
Christian theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart believed that Christmas was the time when Christ was born within each and every one of us.
This Advent , in the season of hope
as we light our Advent candles, 

I PRAY that we don't simply anticipate the light but that we increase it in our hearts and lives. 
I PRAY that those who do not believe will be inspired to look again at the bright stars in the sky; that they will be guided  to the scene of the manger where Jesus Christ was born.

I PRAY to be able to see in it where all origins and hopes of humans began
and where the source of authentic truth and reason for our very being truly lies.

This wonderful song is not really in "hopeful solemnity"  but this Advent, as the lady says 

" We are affirming ourselves folks : please do it beyond a whisper !" 

(This photo below is from The BBC World Service Outlook programme).

Creighton University has a whole raft of resources which can be accessed here
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