Yesterday marked the first Sunday in the first liturgical season of the year… Advent.
I have to say, I love the seasonality of the liturgical calendar. I love how it goes along with the seasons outside of my window while keeping me rooted in the story of Jesus.
Advent is my favorite liturgical season. It begins in darkness as we approach the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.
Advent is countercultural, as the church should be. Unlike the secular commercial Christmas world screams at us, Advent says that Christmas is not here yet.
As one of my favorite humans, Episcopal priest, Fleming Rutledge1, writes…
“The clock on the bank says that it is day but the hands of the church point to midnight.”
Outside the church, we’re faced with a subtle-yet-amplified law/commandment…
THOU SHALT BE JOLLY.
Now, don’t get me wrong… I love being jolly. I love, love me a good Hallmark movie. I’ve watched three already and I don’t plan on slowing down. (Please pray for me.)
But… If you’re like me…
As nice as that holly jolliness might be… Doesn’t the loudness of it make you… Shudder? At least a little?
Doesn’t the brightness of the law of jolliness expose your own personal sorrow, despair, longing, and anxiety?
See, human life is marked with death, loss, loneliness, estrangement, toxicity, and disappointment. I’m sorry - it’s part of the package of being human. It’s the most normal thing of all, this blueness.
This is why we dress the church up in blue this time of year (at least we in the church catholic). To honor the blueness that we all experience in some way and to varying degrees this time of year, particularly.
I hope that in the spirit of Advent, you can embrace the darkening of our days to honor the blueness in your own heart. We’ve all been through a lot (this last year and a half especially). People die. People leave. We lose things. Things don’t work out. Despair is real.
You might start to notice these things more the brighter the Christmas lights get outside. But that’s okay. God has you.
Christ doesn’t come in fruitcake or egg nog (though I'm pretty sure Jesus could appreciate both). Christ comes in the bread and wine - in the body broken and blood poured out so as to bring new life out of death. In the spirit of this, put your hand on your heart and rub it when you feel down. Honor the blueness within. God is with you in the darkness. God uses that darkness to bring the light.
When you allow yourself to safely honor the blueness inside…
You can enjoy those holly jolly lights and Hallmark movies all the more.