The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:14
Hope and Light:
If this week’s Advent lenses are “hope” and “light,” then today is a good day to begin looking at the process of getting our home – and particularly our decorating – in line with the message.
We started, of course, by attending church Sunday morning. Nothing provides the appropriate context for the coming of Christmas any better than worship – as a community of people not only guided to the newborn child in Bethlehem, but guided by that same Jesus.
We considered the Advent idea of expectation – “Come, thou long-expected Jesus” – and also the persistent discipline of waiting. We are caught, because of COVID, in a protracted time of waiting for this pandemic to be behind us. But more than waiting for something to be wrapped up and done, this liminal moment we currently occupy is not so much a passing transition as it is a semi-permanent state of being.
If we are to be here for a while, then, we are going to need both hope and light. Light to find our life and our way, and hope to remind us that the Good News is defined by promise.
First up, the nativity:
Our tradition at Maul-Hall is to begin where Advent also ends; not to leave the beautiful scene of Jesus’ birth waiting in the wings until Christmas Eve, but to lead with the manger.
So Rebekah (who is the design genius behind all our decorating) pulled out the box containing the simple olive wood figures we have used our entire life together, and we set them up, remembering stories along the way.
The original tableau has been modified over time, with guest appearances from characters like the little viking man and his pack donkey, an elegant crane, and a couple of colorful animals from Mexico.
Then, from our epic trip to Germany two years ago, the Dresden Angel, representing the tragedy of the human condition and our need for real peace, along with the sovereign power of God.
Finally, as if to put an exclamation point on the light part of the equation, our “Angel With Heart” joins the scene. Contemporary American pop culture artist Peter Max brilliantly captures both the brilliance and the love in this classic piece.
Both LIGHT and HOPE at one end of our living room.
We are invited – remember, Jesus is God’s invitation – to shine where we are and to offer the clear message of hope in a world that tends to focus more on disappointment than appointment.
Our appointment is with the holy. Only to get there, to properly engage the opportunity that Advent presents, we must – along with the Magi – travel with intention and anticipation.
This is my message for today. Hope, and light. Hope found in the simple birth of a child; light resplendent in the angel messenger.
We too are called to be messengers of light and hope. “As we hold out,” Paul says in Philippians 2, “the word of life.”
Good tidings of joy – DEREK