For The Someday Book

The Not-Yet of Advent

Posted on: December 6, 2009

The ritual of lighting the Advent candles is always dicey. Recruiting busy families and young children for the task means you never rehearse and always just wait and hope it will go smoothly. This morning, the Second Sunday of Advent, the nine-year-old and her grandmother did an excellent job with the short readings, but got a bit confused about lighting the candles. Instead of lighting just two purple candles, they lit all three.

I felt my heart lurch out–no, not yet! We’re not ready for three candles to be lit, for Christmas to be closing in so fast! Let me linger a little longer in the darkness, in the hesitancy, in the waiting. Let me sit quietly with the uncertainty and the yearning and the anticipation. I felt tempted to sneak over and blow out that extra purple candle.

The Spirit must have felt the same way. It just wasn’t time yet. While two purple candles blazed brightly throughout the whole service, that third candle struggled and flickered dimly. If I hadn’t been seated so close, I wouldn’t have been able to discern that it was lit at all.

Advent is all about “not-yet.” Christ is coming–but not yet. God will come again to redeem us–but not yet. God’s hope, peace, joy and love will rule heaven and earth–but not yet. Like Mary, we must wait for the birth to come in God’s time. The Holy One knows what she is doing.

I am content, for now, with that “not-yet” to remain awhile longer.

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About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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