Before worship this morning, I saw our worship coordinator struggling with our church's Advent wreath. We've always had some issues with advent candles. In the past, we had the traditional Advent wreath with four candles up in the chancel area. I always liked to have the children help me light the candles, except that the candles were notoriously difficult to light. And sometimes, even when lit, you couldn't see them.
A few years ago, someone got a brilliant idea and fixed up an Advent wreath contraption that is hung from the ceiling with pulleys. The candles are four blue votives inside four small lanterns hung from the wreath. But it's a little bit of a trick getting the candles lit and inside of the lanterns on Sunday morning. And if you're tall, you might accidentally bump your head on the wreath as you walk into church in the morning.
It means that there is no opportunity to light the Advent candles with the children, something I'm a little sad about.
So I stopped to chat with the worship coordinator. In the midst of her struggle, "I hope I have them in right!", she said. Then she added, "I kind of like it, though. I like the advent wreath like this, in the middle of the sanctuary. It's just like God, dwelling in the midst of us."
What a great insight! I'll look at the suspended wreath differently from now on. As the little blue lights increase, I'll see hope increase with the lights, and I'll see that the hope is coming from the midst of us, where God dwells, where God has promised to come.
"And the word became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth...."
We had the children's Chrismas program this morning. So wonderful to sit and listen and hear the story as the children told it, full of warmth and sincerity and grace and truth. I have known some of these children since they were babies. Today they sang and sneezed and said their lines with feeling. Knowing the children as I do, I know a little about their lives, and their families. I don't know them as perfect children, but as people who have sometimes had to deal with tragedy and difficulty, even at their age. And yet they told us about the baby, and believed in his coming.
"And the word became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth....."
In the midst of the congregation, the lights shine.