Seeker: There has been a great deal of scripture this week, Preacher. There often is this time of year. No sooner have we put away the Thanksgiving leftovers and washed all the plates and silverware, it is time to bring out the Advent wreaths and replace the old Advent candles from last year with new fresh candles. After all of the rejoicing of a good harvest, and fellowship of family, friends, and members of our faith circles, we start the count down of waiting. I think maybe the Celts had a better system, starting Advent sooner and having the Thanksgiving celebration be an oasis in the waiting. However, having experienced the joy of Thanksgiving, we can be ready to wait and praise the Lord.
Preacher: “Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed, O you who answer prayer! To you all flesh shall come. When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions.”
Seeker: It is a tricky time for determining when to make the change over from considering Ordinary Time to the waiting and looking towards Advent. Many bloggers have been caught off-guard as to when is the best time to make that decision.
Preacher: “Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple.”
Seeker: But all times are good and fair to celebrate the Lord and lift up praise.
Preacher: “By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.”
Seeker: Hope, that is what we wait, hope. Whether it be looking back at the hope of our spiritual forebearers, listening to hope preached by the hospitals, hearing from Jesus himself who brought hope, praising the Divine for the hope that was intended for humanity – hope is what we need.
Preacher: “By your strength you established the mountains; you are girded with might. You silence the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples. Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs; you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy. You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.” ( Psalm 65)
Seeker: Because it is when we have celebrated what we have, we start to think of what we don’t have and what we need. We turn inward and look to deeper needs, considering what is lacking in our spiritual lives, and wonder how we will move through the dark days. Thanksgiving may be the high point, but at the turn of the calendar we are back at the beginning of the faith journey.
Preacher: You know the rhythms of the church year, Seeker. You know the ebbs and flows of the faith life. For each up, there is a down. And for each down, there is an up.
Seeker: And we cycle through the ups and downs twice, Preacher. Christ comes as a child, and grows to be our Teacher and Exemplar. But then the Messiah is taken from us, to be reborn as the Savior that we have always needed. And then we spin through the rest of the year, until we come to this point again. But praise be to God, we do not have to relearn all that we have come to know. In each cycle of the seasons the lessons of the past come to our aid, and we grow.
Preacher: Shalom & Selah, Seeker. Shalom & Selah!