I recently happened upon an excellent description of our liturgical church year in general and of the liturgical season of Advent in particular within the ELCA’s worship resource titled Sundays and Seasons. The author writes: “The cycle of the (entire) church year orders our time in Christian community around the central mystery of our faith: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our experience of this mystery, however, is not linear—a simple narrative path from beginning to end. Our lives are full of endings and beginnings happening all at once, interspersed with waiting, lament, and hope. The ‘now-and-not-yet’ nature of the fulfillment of our hope in Christ is never more rhetorically real than in the season of Advent. In its great wisdom, the lectionary launches us into this wheel of time with a season that, much like our own lives, is full of endings and beginnings—and, of course, waiting. While Advent has often been understood as Christmas’s Lenten counterpart—a season of preparation for a particular feast—our readings in this season serve a deeper liturgical purpose than simply helping us resist the commercialization of the holiday season and more reverently celebrate Christmas.” <snip> “The readings in Advent prepare us to receive not only a new baby, but a new world where God’s justice and mercy reign.”
So as we turn the page on our calendars to a new month of December, a new liturgical Year B, and a new liturgical season of Advent, I cannot help but reflect on the previous months—and the remarkable changes we have seen in our world, government, local communities, and even here at church. The author above wrote: “In its great wisdom, the lectionary launches us into this wheel of time with a season that, much like our own lives, is full of endings and beginnings—and, of course, waiting.” Many of the changes we have seen have been very difficult. But some of them have been life-giving too. This year we have seen 2 baptisms, a confirmation, high schoolers going off to college, marriages, anniversaries, and soon to be 19 new members. When we are barraged with stories of sexual harassment of public and previously trusted people, threatened by war, and suspect of leadership it is way too easy to miss these remarkable moments of God’s abundant blessings and new life. Advent’s liturgical color is a rich, deep blue representing hope; like the deep blue sky of a dawning new day or the blue reminiscent of the deepest waters with which we have been baptized. God is at work amongst us, with us, and through us and that blessed grace is a necessary ballast to the other gunk our ears might hear. May God bless your season of hope and expectation as together we await the One whose coming is certain and whose day draws near. A blessed Advent to you.
A Fun Tid-Bit from a Greek Geek: In this article the word ‘liturgical’ was used six or seven times. Its root word is the word ‘liturgy,’ a church word people sometimes commonly use in referring to the order of Sunday worship. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “liturgy” as “a rite or body of rites prescribed for public worship.” I was taught that the word ‘liturgy,’ λειτουργία (leitourgia) in Greek language, originated in the language of Ancient Greek, which precedes the Greek language of the New Testament (Koine Greek) by 500 to 1000 years! The term ‘liturgy’ is a conflation of two ancient Greek words: leitos which means “the public or people” and ergos which means “work.” So our word ‘liturgy’ literally means “the work of the people” and theologically carries an important meaning into our worship-life that on Sunday mornings at 10 AM, no one is a spectator simply watching the pastor do the holy/religious stuff, but rather everyone is an active participant in the worship of our Resurrected Lord.
Pastor Mark Tiede