For Celt(ic Christians) in the 6th century, today was the first day of the Celtic Advent season, some forty days before Christmas. It mirrored Lent which leads up to Easter. The Celtic Advent was (and still is) a great season.
So, happy Advent-tide to you and yours. Be blessed.
‘It is now, at Advent, that I am given the chance to suspend all expectation…and instead to revel in the mystery.’ Jerusalem Jackson Greer
In a time when the commercial side of Christmas has a tendency to take over, I like the idea of celebrating the beginning of Advent, today, knowing the Mystery and ancient continuity behind it. It also gives us a longer time to prepare for the coming of Christmas, that is, the real, deep, moving, comforting, spiritual aspect of Christmas, and the meditational aspect of preparation of what is to come.
This Advent, then, can be a time to rest, to accept the struggle, the darkness of the season with short(er) days and longer nights as a reality and see that as a metaphor for our own inner struggles and uncertainties. It is a time for complete honesty and authenticity before the Incarnated One, and a time of expectancy – yes, ripples in time, from the future flow this way, to us; veritable waves of comfort and joy. Christmas is coming. Advent is here!
‘All the element[s] we swim in, this existence, echoes ahead the advent. God is coming! Can’t you feel it? ‘ Walter Wangerin, Jr.
And so, in the 6th century, they would light a candle each day to celebrate the (Celtic) Advent – and there’s an encouragement to us all, perhaps to light a candle, if only for half an hour each evening during this season, and gaze upon it and ponder on the meaning of the Embody-ment, the coming of the Christ at that first ‘Christmas-time’ (and, daily, into our lives!).
‘Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts. Since it comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent.’ Edward Hays
‘O’ antiphons sang at this time, was another early Celtic tradition. An antiphon, from the Latin ‘antiphona’, meaning ‘sounding against’, was a repeated line of the Bible used as ‘bookends’ to the Psalms in daily Prayer, helping those gathered remember important and relevant parts of Sacred text relevant to this season. Most people would recognise a version of these antiphons as the verses of the Advent carol O Come, O Come Emmanuel. They are still prayed in many churches – as they have been for more than a millennia and a half. Continuity.
I love continuity, especially as you and I, in part by lighting that candle, or singing (or speaking) those ‘O’ antiphons and/or carols and/or Advent prayers, enter into the stream of the ancestors, that great cloud of witnesses as we do so.
May this eternal truth be always on our hearts,
that the God who breathed this world into being,
placed stars into the heavens,
and designed a butterfly’s wing,
Is the God who entrusted his life
to the care of ordinary people.
[He] became vulnerable that we might know
how strong is the power of Love.
A mystery so deep it is impossible to grasp,
a mystery so beautiful it is impossible to ignore.
(Poem/prayer: http://www.faithandworship.com used Under Creative Commons Licence)
So, a really happy Advent-tide to you and yours. Be blessed.