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Daily Advent Reflection
Read Saturday, December 14th Reflection
Friday, December 13, 2013
I remember learning, from John Donne’s Nocturnall, that
Lucie’s day was the shortest, the darkest, “the yeares midnight,” as he would have it. It took me decades to remember why the thirteenth should be the shortest, instead of the twenty-first or second, as we all know it to be. It’s because the calendar changed, during Donne’s lifetime, and the season shifted, in case, like me, you’d forgotten.
Still, since those school days for me, Lucy has always been associated with that “year’s midnight.” Her candles hardly seem sufficient to drive away the tired dullness of a day on which “the Sunne is spent, and now his flasks Send forth light squibs, no constant rayes.” And yet, remember this: If, in a vast, velvet darkness, you strike a single sulfur match, and watch its tiny flame flicker and fade, and close your eyes, the image that burns on inside your eyelids will not be of the surrounding darkness, but of light, spreading to fill your inner vision.
“The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9). Amen: Come, Lord Jesus.
John Donne, A nocturnall upon S. Lucie’s day, Being the shortest day, in The Complete Poetry of John Donne, John T. Shawcross, ed. (Anchor Books, 1967), 155
The Rev. Rosalind C. Hughes, Priest-In-Charge
Church of the Epiphany, Euclid
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Saturday, December 14, 2013
Epistle for III Advent, James 5:7: “Be patient, therefore beloved, until the coming of the Lord.”
A friend of mine often laments the familiar practice to celebrate Christmas almost any time after Thanksgiving rather than waiting until the completion of Advent and then celebrating during the 12 days of Christmastide. I sympathize, and I have often expressed it myself. These premature celebrations express more of a secular-social occasion than any celebration of the Incarnation…. for example, the “office Christmas party” or the service club dinner or school-related events.
If we recognize the secularity of all that, then we need not be upset about it but rather “be patient,” staying with our own Advent season preparation. Advent is contemplative in tone—surveying the prophecies of the coming Messiah and the second coming of Christ, looking forward in hope to the Coming. It clearly involves some constraint from early celebration.
So what do we do when pressured into early celebrations? Do we opt out, declaring our beliefs about it? Do we go ahead and join with others in some kind of subdued manner? Do we use it as an opportunity to declare our belief in Christ? Possibly. I don’t have a clear answer that fits everybody, but I suggest that you make a plan to follow so that you may be true to your own beliefs about it, so that you may celebrate Advent in its time and Christmas afterwards. May your plans bring you peace and joy!
The Rev. Gary A. McElroy
Supply and Interim Ministry
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