Ponderings – December 2022

Ponderings! A message from Rev Gloria

On Sunday, November 27th, we begin the season of Advent. Advent originated around the 5th Century to the best of historical research. St. Gregory of Tours wrote that Advent should last from the
Feast of St. Martin until Christmas. In the 6th century, the Second Council of Yours declared that Advent should last from December 1st until Christmas Day. The Season of Advent looked very different from the Advent we celebrate today. It originally was a time for spiritual reflection, penance and fasting for existing members and especially for those seeking to be baptized in January during the time of Jesus’ baptism. This is the reason that the color purple was used during Advent as it is during Lent. Also, the name itself means “coming” or “arrival”.

Gradually over time, the church went from focusing on the immediate return of Jesus to Earth to focusing not only on the second coming but also on the birth of Jesus. The Church maintained this focus until the late 20th century. Around the turn of the century, churches of mainline Protestant denominations turned the focus from penance and spiritual reflection to Celebration and Anticipation. With this change, Lent was left to focus on penance and spiritual reflection thus retaining the color purple. Advent changed
from purple to blue as the primary color. The color blue, symbolizes hope, confidence, anticipation and expectation. (Blue is also the color for Mary and women.)

The use of the Advent Wreath appeared in 1839, when a Lutheran minister working at a mission for children created a wreath out of the wheel of a cart. He placed twenty small red candles and four large
white candles inside the ring. The red candles were lit on weekdays and the four white candles were lit on Sundays.

Over time the wreath was reduced to 4 colored candles and 1 white candle. In addition, the wreath changed from a wheel to evergreens, which symbolize everlasting life in the midst of winter and darkness.
It also is a reminder of God’s unending love in the same manner a wedding ring is a symbol of a couple’s everlasting love for one another.” (excerpted from Understanding the Meaning, History, and Tradition of the Advent Wreath).

“The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer knew that those who consider themselves complete and rich have a difficult time acknowledging a relationship with God through an infant. They also can not foresee a need for something greater than the world they know. Advent gives us a time to pause and reflect on our place and our needs for the Christ Child to enter into our hearts again and renew us.

As we enter this Season of Advent may we pause and prepare ourselves for the arrival of an infant who changed the world. Also, to restore our hope in the fulfillment of God’s Realm here on earth. I offer you this prayer:

This Christmas, God come to the manger of my heart.
Fill me with Your presence from the very start.
As I prepare for the holidays and gifts to be given,
Remind me of the gift You gave when You sent Your Son from Heaven.
The first Christmas gift, it was the greatest gift ever.
You came as a baby born in a manger.
Wrapped like the gifts I find under my tree,
Waiting to be opened, to reveal Your love to me.
Restore to me the wonder that came with Jesus’ birth,
when He left the riches of Heaven and wrapped Himself in rags of earth.
Immanuel, God with us, Your presence came that night.
And angels announced, “Into your darkness, God brings His Light.”
“Do not be afraid,” they said, to shepherds in the field.
Speak to my heart today, Lord, and help me to yield.
Make me like those shepherd boys, obedient to Your call.
Setting distractions and worries aside, to You I surrender them all.
Surround me with Your presence, Lord, I long to hear Your voice.
Clear my mind of countless concerns and all the holiday noise.
Slow me down this Christmas, let me not be in a rush.
In the midst of parties and planning, I want to feel Your hush.
This Christmas, Jesus, come to the manger of my heart.
Invade my soul like Bethlehem, bringing peace to every part.
Dwell within and around me, as I unwrap Your presence each day.
Keep me close to You, Jesus. It’s in Your wonderful Name I pray.

~Renee Swope, “The Manger of My Heart” from Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Blessings, Rev. Gloria

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