We’re a week away from Christmas 2010 and we’re now on what might be called “countdown” mode for what some consider the most celebrated holiday of the year. This Christmas countdown can mean many things to different people.
For many the countdown is about the number of shopping days left and the number of gifts yet to be decided on, bought, wrapped and given. For others it involves the number of parties yet to attend and the number of calories to be lost after the holidays end. The length of time it takes to find a parking space at the mall and the amount of distance from the car to the mall entrance can be an indicator of where we are in this countdown phase of the holidays.
Many of us in the Christian faith began our “countdown” four Sundays ago when we started our observance of Advent, the time of waiting and preparation for Christmas. A part of our waiting includes a ritual with five candles, four representing hope, peace, joy and love, and the fifth being the light of Christ. Tomorrow (12/19/10) we will light the fourth candle, signifying the presence of God’s unfailing, unconditional love in the world.
We have lit the candle of hope because our faith tells us god is always with us and there is no failure in God.
We have lit the candle of peace because peace, Emmanuel (God with us), has come to live not just “with us” but in and through us.
We have lit the candle of joy because, even in the midst of an ocean of tears, the darkness must give way to the dawn of redeeming, liberating Grace --- God’s amazing Grace.
We will light the candle of love because, in faith, we know that God’s love is all there really is and that even (especially) when it seems otherwise we are surrounded, embraced and cornered by this Love.
Over 2,000 years ago a young peasant girl in Nazareth was counting down, and had been for nine months. She wasn’t sure just what the end of this countdown would mean, and yet she trusted still. She trusted a God in Whom she found undying hope, abiding peace, overwhelming joy and unfailing love. As she said “yes” then, we desire to say “yes” now.
BREATH OF HEAVEN: MARY'S SONG