Coming up with new things to say every Advent season can be difficult. It's not necessarily that you need to find brand new ideas, so much as original ways to reflect on the familiar themes. So I've taken to seeking out at least one new resource every year that I hope will give me some insight as to how to do this.
This year's selection was Advent by Fleming Rutledge, a collection of sermons and other reflections that span her entire preaching career. It's an excellent book, and it did give me some ideas for this latest round of Advent and Christmas sermons with which I need to concern myself.
While I was reading this book, I absent-mindedly set it down on the couch and left the room for a few moments. That turned out to be a mistake, because when I came back, my dog had had her way with it.
She only got a few of the front endorsement pages, but still, that I'd given her an opportunity to get it at all was something about which I should have known better. It didn't affect my reading of it much at all, but was a source of irritation all the same.
In more than one of her sermons, Rutledge observes that "Advent begins in the dark." Many people approach Advent as a joyful time right from the jump, preferring to forego the minor key dirges written for this season in favor of the more familiar and uplifting carols of Christmas. Sanctuaries and places of commerce and homes are decked with boughs of holly, and there may not be much reason to think about darkness and despair and dependence.
But for those of us whose current chapter has been ripped and chewed by circumstance, the journey toward celebration is slower and requires an acknowledgement of the darkness first. We can't move directly to peace yet. A few pages need to be turned or mended first. And Advent is the space where we get to hear that that's okay.
(top image source)