Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent One: Week of Hope

It is still November. Yet traditionally (unless you are German Lutheran) Advent begins on the Fourth Sunday out from Christmas. And the candles are violet (or blue if you're Swedish; red if you're Russian Orthodox.) And I chose a white fifth candle for Christmas eve. Once a season of fasting and penitence until the third Sunday (pink candle) of Joy, for our family it had been reduced to paper calendars with chocolate stuffed inside.

I'm kind of shooting from the hip on this. I have a little booklet with child-sized devotions and boxes and boxes of ideas, traditions, and hopes for each Christmas season. Yet I don't come from a liturgical background so I've cobbled together some research to keep us focused. The Sundays are the candle lighting days; the days we prepare for the week to come. The weekdays will focus on activities and traditions as we prepare for the King's birthday.

So tonight, as I stumbled through an explanation of the candles (and I forgot to mention the circle of green), my six year old Bethany leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Mom, I thought this was supposed to be fun." Be thankful we're not fasting, I thought as I wondered how to explain Hope, the first lighted candle. What does a child know of the world's need for Hope?

Outside, the wind blew hard, divesting all the trees of last year's leaves. I can see the blue sky now that the branches are naked, like my soul. How do I explain what I do not clearly understand? We will struggle this week to understand Hope: how to have it, how to give it. Journey with us.

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