Advent memories include the organist at church (also my piano teacher) rocking out O Come, O Come Emmanuel… It meant opening the Advent calendar with ornaments inside which we squabbled over each day and putting on the mini designated Advent calendar tree. It meant fighting over who got to blow out the candles on the Advent wreath each night. (And mom invariably having to re-light because someone (ahem – we won’t say who) had blown them out when it wasn’t his turn.)
O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
That was the verse that came to mind a few days before Christmas last year as I meandered about the Marché de Noël in Montreaux, Switzerland and saw this view.
“Death’s dark shadows put to flight.” I spent time this evening putting single white (battery-operated – thank you #thirdworldproblems) candles in my windows. (Then I promptly sealed off my windows with plastic so we will be celebrating Christmas around here until spring comes or the batteries die… whichever comes first.) My family wasn’t a big Christmas lights family but we always had the single white lights in each window. I always have loved that tradition, (not only because it bought us some extra reading time after lights out!)
How many shadows there are in the world this year! After a wonderful Thanksgiving break, I found myself somewhat restless faced with the dichotomy of the joy and gratitude I experience paralleled by so much suffering. Our world… my heart… longs for a Savior.
Perhaps unconsciously this is why Christmas lights are one of my favorite part of the season. (Don’t get me started on the blow up decorations…) I’m not a big fan of the multi-colors. I always am confused by purple Christmas lights. Dancing icicles strands make me dizzy. And then there’s this. But I love simple white lights. There is a portion of my drive to the gym in the morning that takes me down a hilly road with a white fence with looped garland with white lights and red bows. It makes me smile every time. The true history of Christmas lights is interesting in its own rite, but for me it is enough that they dispel the darkness of dark December nights.
My favorite part of Christmas Eve as a child was the luminaria which lined our neighborhood streets. After Christmas Eve dinner we would drive through various neighborhoods looking at the Christmas lights, and coming the streets to our house the luminaria filled one with anticipation. The pathway of light had to be leading somewhere special.
Once home, we would change into pajamas and Dad would read to us the Nativity narrative from the Bible. My brother would always beg for the version from St. John’s Gospel.
“the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
The day-spring refers to dawn, the breaking of a new day.
My prayer this Advent is for a Savior who will bring a new dawn to this broken world, to my broken heart, to light the lives of so many people I know who are hurting in their own way, to bring the opportunity that comes with a new day to our world.