Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent's gift of darkness

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. If you follow the church calendar in a lectionary or The Book of Common Prayer; today you're turning back to the beginning. In a sense this is New Year's Day for the Christian church. Where did the past year go?!

I love Advent. Honestly, the four Sundays of Advent have become more meaningful to my celebration of Christmas than December 25. These weeks leading up to Christmas Day give the church an opportunity to inhabit the story of the Old Testament people of God as they waited for the coming of the Messiah. It's also a time to connect our story with their story (since we too expectantly wait for Christ's appearing) and to meditate on the mystery of The Incarnation.

Last year during Advent our pastor's wife pointed out this poem by Luci Shaw. It's stuck with me all year.

The Overshadow

"...the power of the Most High will overshadow you..." Luke 1:35

When we think of God, and

Angels, and the Angel,

we suppose ineffable light.

So there is surprise in the air

when we see him bring Mary,

in her lit room, a gift of darkness.

What is happening under that

huge wing of shade? In that mystery

what in-breaking wildness fills her?

She is astonished and afraid; even in

the secret twilight she bends her head,

hiding her face behind the curtain

of her hair; she knows that

the rest of her life will mirror

this blaze, this sudden midnight.

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