Yesterday in church the pastor said something like “it’s the start of the new church year” and my ears perked up and I probably had a “huh?” sort of look on my face. In the bulletin it said,
Advent marks the beginning season of the Church Year. It consists of the four Sundays before Christmas preparing us for the coming of Jesus.
Huh! I have been going to church for many years and I apparently never picked up on that concept of Advent. Probably because I’ve had small children with me during church services for the past 8 years and therefore I only hear 17% of what is actually said in church.
I mean, the Spy is playing Joseph in our church’s Christmas program (on Christmas Eve), but let’s be honest, if you ask him what his favorite thing about Christmas is the first thing he’ll say is “Presents!”
Many of the lessons of spirituality take a LONG time to actually stick. Obviously. I never knew any of this:
Four candles, three purple and one pink, are on the advent wreath with a white candle in the middle. Each Sunday one additional candle is lighted to indicate the progression toward Christmas. The candles call attention to the themes of Advent. The first candle is prophesy or hope. (this is from our church bulletin yesterday)
I’m sure the same thing was printed in the bulletin last year and the year before that and the year before that. I don’t go to church like a vacuous sheep. I absorb. I reflect. I discuss. I digress. There’s a lot that happens in church. We got to service at 9, then from 10-10:30 is “fellowship” (i.e. coffee, chitchat and the kids (and preferably not me) eating donuts), then music and Sunday school with the kids from 10:30-11:30. Missing a little piece of (pretty subtle) symbolism amid all that activity is quite possible.
But now I know (and you know) what an advent wreath is!
I found the idea that the new year has started to be an interesting and attractive concept. December is a good time to reorganize your photos from the past year, do the last of the garden clean-up and finish whatever other things you’ve got going on so that you can begin January (the “other” new year) with a clean slate. And here at Spy Garden, oh how we love a blank canvas:
Talie at funny/beautiful wrote an entry yesterday about the importance of reflecting on your goals and shaping new ones in December. And then it occurred to me that on the “first day” of the new church year (December 1), I wrote about nuclear waste.
I assure you we ARE in the Christmas contemplative spirit in Spy Garden, so if I post about nuclear waste again or Queen or Weezer or zombies or some other non-Christmas topic, I still want people to know that Spy Garden content of December comes from a deep appreciation for the real meaning of Christmas. Twinkling white lights and fragrant pine cones and other beauties of the season may be featured and if I forget to mention Christ–well Christ IS in the actual name of Christmas–but you know what I mean. So my other solution to ensuring Christmas spirit abounds is to decorate Spy Garden website! This is the next best thing to turning our ACTUAL garden into a lighted winter wonderland walk-through (which IS happening next year). So enjoy the Christmas header (coming at you tomorrow!!). Gaze at it and remember baby J in case I post about something un-Christmas-y this month!