Into the wide mouth of each
opened white paper sack
flow the grains of playground sand.
As carefully as a table
is set, one hundred white
candles are so gently placed.
One, then two, then three, then four
Until all wicks are lit
Creating a glow so soft.
Lifted into the night sky
Just as many prayers
of peace are multiplied.
May these flames be a sign of
Christ’s hope, love, joy, and peace
uniting for a moment.
May the blessings of this night
remain in the young hearts
whose hearts glow and illuminate.
For me, one of the blessings of this year, has been less anxiety over getting things done. Even though it may take effort to adjust to the ways that many of the events leading up to Christmas are different or postponed until next year, we can be hopeful! More time may be available for contemplation and releasing those things that keep us from participating in the Advent awakening journey. Even so, that does not leave us immune to finding other ways of keeping our minds too busy and living in a stressful way.
Last Saturday evening, the youth group assembled and lit luminaries on the sidewalks lining the streets of the Saint Paul campus. It happened to be on the Eve of the Santa Lucia (Saint Lucy) festival that originated in Sweden and occurs each year on December 13th. It is certain to be very cold and dark and it is said that the candlelight and sweet songs ward off evil spirits! The young woman playing the part of Lucia traditionally wore a crown of candlelight in on her head; although electric candles are used these days. Each of her handmaidens also carries a candle. Boys carry stars on sticks have tall paper cones on their heads and all of the children are dressed in white gowns. The songs are uplifting and do seem necessary to ward off the spirits of anxiety and depression so common in the cold of winter.
We are so grateful for the ways we have been in ministry with people during this pandemic. There are new ways of safely doing things that unite our hearts when we cannot be physically together. The children, youth, and families of Saint Paul have re-enacted the Christmas nativity story of so long ago. Be sure to check it out on the website and see if it doesn’t lift your spirits! You may want to view it several times because there is too much to catch the first time.
Christmas Eve is quickly coming. There have been moments that I’ve wondered, is four weeks enough for Advent preparation? Do I need more time than that to wake up and answer the knock of Jesus at the door of my heart? Will 2020 be the year that I am finally prepared to come to the manger, unimpeded by all demands and ready to receive the Messiah?
When we realize our own lowliness of heart and focus on bringing hope to those who feel like they have no way out of their situation, we are preparing our hearts for welcoming Jesus at the manger.
Living hopefully, may we find faith in the quietude, in the candlelight, and the Advent and Christmas scriptures. Together let us journey on while following the Light in the sky so we are prepared to hear and respond to the babe born again on Christmas Day.
May the light of Christ warm your spirit,
Rev. Marta Wheeler