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November 28, 2004

Waiting; watching

To many folks who celebrate Christmas, today might represent 26 more shopping days. And that it is; I went online today to get some ordering done.

But in the Anglican tradition that we're a part of in the Episcopal Church, today is the first Sunday in Advent.

Advent is a splendid season in the church year. The theme of Advent is expectation, waiting and watching. In theory, it's a season of penitence, like Lent, but in practice, we do well just to stem the tide of commercialism that starts rising around our heels before Halloween. It�s really a bit of split-personality dance, from Christmas parties, Christmas cookies, and all the rest of the things that we enjoy, to the asceticism that we are called to practice in Advent.

In church, I love the colors and signs of Advent. From the endless greens of the six-month season of Pentecost, we are plunged into deep blues and off whites. The first of five Advent candles are lit, young children sing �Light one candle to watch for Messiah..�, and we chant a litany.

Also a tradition in our church on the first Sunday of Advent: we make an Advent wreath to bring home. I say �we,� but today it was really my children: Jen was down in the choir, and I don�t do well with these crafty things. So the two younger children covered styrofoam with greens cut from the back yard mixed with a few fake holly berries, and in the evening we gathered around it, lit the first of the four candles, sang a brief hymn, and each shared what we�re looking forward to this Advent.