Monday, November 24th
for Sunday, November 30th, 1st Sunday in Advent
READ: Isaiah 64.1-9 “kindles”
REFLECT: Finally, the season of Advent is upon us. In liturgical terms, Advent is the Christian New Year. Up at the top of this post, after the date, the season of the Christian year is noted. It is a particular way of marking time. This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. If you look back at previous posts in this series, you’ll see that we have been in the season after Pentecost for a long, long time. 24 weeks, to be exact.
Why pay attention to the seasons of the liturgical calendar — the worship cycle of the church year — at all? Like any regularized story telling, it gives meaning, purpose and shape to our lives. In the story of God with us, God is already here, and yet we’re always waiting for God to come. It is how we can be people of hope.
As I began reading and praying with this passage, the word “kindles” stirred my heart. It always does. Ever since I saw “Return of the King,” the final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, that word has given me a powerful image for understanding what hope is. In the film there is a vast network of beacons, tall wooden structures that run between the two great realms of Gondor and Rohan. Gondor is under attack and despite its impending downfall, refuses to call for help. The sickness of power and pride has taken a strong hold over its leadership.
But a hobbit, a small, humble and seemingly insignificant creature is able to slip past the guards and light the beacon. When the second beacon in the chain leading to Rohan is lit, Gandalf sighs with relief, “hope is kindled.” It is my favorite line in the entire trilogy.
So it is with Advent, the season that marks the start of the Christian year, telling the story of Jesus among us. In churches that light candles of an Advent wreath, each Sunday is marked with the themes of hope, peace, joy and love. Hope kindles, and that hope begins with Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.
RESPOND: God, we confess that we do not always place our hope in you. Too often it is misplaced in our jobs, our relationships, our homes or our bank accounts. Help us to realign our hearts and realign our lives so that our hope rests in you, and your hope is shared with others through us.
Our lives revolve so intimately around the clock and the calendar. When we are so time-bound in this way, following the liturgical calendar and ordering our lives around that way of keeping time becomes a radical sign act. How might your life begin to take on new shape, new rhythms and new meaning if your new year started with the season of Advent rather than on January 1?
LECTIONARY TEXTS FOR THE UPCOMING SUNDAY (and for you to try on your own):
1 Corinthians 1.3-9
Lectio Divina Paci is a weekly devotional guide by Audrey Hindes for peacemakers in the lectio divina form. Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scripture reading, prayer, meditation, and reflection that treats scripture as the Living Word. Lectio Divina Paci is an opportunity for peacemakers to become more in tune with the voice of the Prince of Peace.