From the December/January 2020-2021 Monthly B’Anne’R
As I write this article the sky is clear and windy and there is a cool nip in the air. The leaves on the maple tree outside my window are turning shades of red, orange, and gold. Soon the branches will be stripped of their beautiful fall colors leaving the bones of the tree visible, the skeleton that gives it that classic maple shape. The transformation of the maple tree ushers in the change of seasons and the fast approaching Thanksgiving holiday.
The colorful leaves are a prelude to the annual cycle of endings and beginnings of the Christian calendar. It took centuries for the church year to acquire its current shape. These cycles provide a rhythm to the yearly journey through the events of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. As we live into the flow of the church calendar, we begin to feel in our bones the daily, weekly, and seasonal pattern of prayer that shapes our spirituality. For many of us it is a rhythm that becomes so familiar that our movement through the cycles is as unconscious as breathing.
This year Advent began the weekend after Thanksgiving. Keeping a holy Advent at times puts us in conflict with the surrounding culture. Christmas trees are on display in department stores at the same time as Halloween costumes, candy corn, and plastic jack-o-lanterns. Christmas carols are soon playing in department stores. In the frenzy of consumerism and parties, the planning of family get-togethers and home decorating, the church asks us to pause and contemplate the meaning of Christ’s incarnation. To put aside the distractions that draw us away from the pursuit of a deeper relationship with God. Our challenge is finding in the chaos that swirls around us the space to be still and wait.
During the season of Advent, we are invited to remember Christ’s first coming as we anticipate his second. It is a time to reflect on how we are living between Jesus’ two advents. We rejoice in his arrival as a newborn in the manger of Bethlehem, the Word that becomes flesh to live as one of us. Leaving us a model for how to live in this in-between time, grounded in love shared with one another while we await his return in glory. Making time for prayer and contemplation allows the Spirit to blow over our lives, and like the wind that strips away the leaves from the fall foliage, to reveal the “bones” of our relationship with God.
So, let us enter this season of hope and joy with the birth of a child, the Son of God. Let us live as children of God in a kingdom that brings peace on earth. Let us participate in the transformation of the world by sharing our love with everyone we encounter, as we wait to see Jesus face to face.
Have a blessed Advent and a most joyous Christmas.
Reverend Buddy Crawford,
For a pdf of the December/January 2020-2021 B’Anne’R click here.