A Hanging of the Greens Homily for 27 November 2016 – 1st Sunday of Advent
It’s hard to believe it’s that time again! Wasn’t it just yesterday Advent 2015 began? . . . Some of us might be ready to put this year behind us, what with health challenges and loss and not always the best news coming to us this year about happenings around our nation and world. Some of us want to linger awhile in the past – sad to be entering this season again with the beginning of a new church year and soon the start of a new calendar year too. If you’ve had the kind of year that can take a toll on you physically, emotionally, and maybe even spiritually with whatever you’ve had to face; then maybe it’s a little be harder to be merry this season. Perhaps you dread what too often becomes over-loaded weeks in a sprint to absolutely perfect Christmases. Or maybe you’re one of those who are 100% excited, giddy with anticipation each morning – ready to jump out of bed to tackle whatever comes this Advent! Either way, here we go again. Time flying by whether or not we’ve stopped enough to enjoy our lives! Whether or not we’ve accomplished the goals we’ve had for ourselves as a community of faith and as individuals. Whether or not we’ve learned what we’ve wanted to, experienced all we’d hoped, or noticed anything much different with each passing day. It’s Advent again with Christmas creeping right around the corner.
Again. . . . Sooner or later we learn in life that this journey is a spiral, not a straight line. We don’t move through time – at least not as liturgical Christians – from point A to point B to point C all the way at last to Z. Instead we move from point A to B to C to point A to B to C and again to point A to B to C over and over again. Some might think the approach rather boring. But with every turn around the circle, we get a chance to go a little deeper. Get a chance to notice what we missed last time. We get to experience the anticipation, longing, hope of this season again and again and again. . . . Have you ever stopped to wonder why so many of us do the same things each Advent season? Why we get the tree from the same place – or at least put it in the same spot. Why we host the same parties and give gifts to the same people and gather for the same traditions this time of year? I think we do it all again and again and again because no matter what’s happening in our lives, such traditions become our anchors. The reminders that this season of our lives won’t last – literally: this season after this year’s loss, or this season after this year’s high will NOT last forever. . . . Like the seasons of nature: winter doesn’t last forever. Neither does spring – or even summer in Tennessee. Life is the endless spiral of life, death, new life. Life, death, new life. . . . No matter in which place we find ourselves standing today, again a new season will come.
Remember that as we adorn this sanctuary today. As we sing the songs of Advent and hear the ancient prophecies. As we take in the sights and ponder the meaning of the same things we use each year: candles expanding in the dark of winter. Wreaths that never end. Red, red leaves that signify so much. Even trees that sparkle and glisten to remind us we’re here in this world but a few decades to do so as well! . . . Again we come to this season and my prayer is that the traditions we love during Advent will wake up any spirits that are slumbering. AND will allow those already ablaze to burn more fervently with the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Again Advent begins. Let these moments fill you with all you need!
Turning to God, let us pray. (Hanging of the Greens liturgy followed.)
And so Advent begins again! Beauty abounds as these symbols of this sanctuary ring out with good tidings of great joy: a Savior born for us. This Advent, let the truth sink into you again. Let the traditions hold you again. Let everything of this season teach you again. . . . Keep the sights and sounds of the season before you that you might receive all you need once again. . . .
In the name of the life-giving Father, the life-redeeming Son, and the life-sustaining Spirit, Amen.
© Copyright JMN – 2016 (All rights reserved.)