Advent 2010 Lead Kindly Light


 
Image above from here 

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 A. 
Readings can be found here

The mood of Advent is sometimes described as  "hopeful solemnity", (but see video at the end !) and is mirrored 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 ?? 



HOW ABOUT LIGHT ?!!
These are 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."

There is 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 and
stand awhile under its lights,

bathe in the light of God 
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.” 

 

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 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.
 


Below is a wonderful version of a well known song sung in "hopeful solemnity"   but as the lady says " 

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


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

4 comments:

sharonxx said...

Hi Phil

Advent for me is always the one thing that carries me through the madness ~ it's the flip side of the chaos and it's the gift that keeps on giving. It's the 'light' in each day leading up to THE day ~ a little beacon of sanity, scripture and sacredness that takes the sting out of the 'big run up' that I dislike more and more the older I get.

Usually I focus on Mary and her journey during advent as she is my favourite beacon of light for this time, a symbol of hope and perseverance.

I don't think you're too early, I've also thought about my focus for advent this year because it's a time for birth and rebirth. I will look at Mary and the light she sheds on the world from her place is biblical history and ponder on that.

Many thanks for an inspiring post.

Sharon xx [I've added your blog link to mine]

Philomena Ewing said...

Hi Sharon,
You are very welcome here !
Yes, "Beacons of sacred light, hope, perseverance" are all ways to lead through this hectic time of year- not a favourite time of year for me and I struggle with focusing on Mary so thank you for your own thoughts on this- maybe I should try harder to focus on her this year too.
Blessings

sharonxx said...

I too struggled with Mary hugely when I first became a Catholic but then I sort of altered my perspective a little and started to view her in a sisterly role, as a friend, someone to walk alongside of rather than someone distant and unreachable. She became alot more accessible after that and I now find her inspirational and comforting, the epitomy [for me anyway] of what a Christian woman should 'look' like.

Here is a link to a post I wrote during advent 2008 expressing my thoughts on Mary ~ I don't think my feelings have altered much since.....

http://sharonxx.wordpress.com/2008/12/21/mary-the-original-spirit-of-christmas/

with pax and light

Sharon xx

Philomena Ewing said...

Greetings Sharon,
Thanks for the link - I look forward to reading it and I like the idea of Mary as a sister.