Sunday, December 02, 2007

Advent: Worship or Decoration?

Helen Locke was the organist in Lafayette Indiana when I was a child. A single, highly focussed woman who lived with her brother, she was an institution in and of herself. Helen did what Helen did. During my first year as pastor in 1980, we approached Advent. Helen set out the wreath with 3 purple candles and 1 pink one. I came into the sanctuary and informed her that the colors were wrong. They should be 4 purple, no pink. Helen was not one to be disagreed with, and she held her ground, refusing all my reasons and arguments. So, early on Sunday morning, before anyone arrived (before Helen arrived) I took the pink candle and aggressively dropped it on the floor, breaking it. I then replaced it with a 4th purple candle. When Helen arrived, she was more than upset. I told her it dropped and I had to replace it with the only candle I could find.
Only later that year, doing more study did I realize that Helen's 3rd pink candle was appropriate, and so were my 4 purple candles and 3 or 4 royal blue candles. What was wrong had nothing to do with the candles, but with my heart. I was prideful and hurtful to a committed woman of the church. Years later I confessed to her my wrong-doing and she warmly forgave me.
When it comes the Advent and Christmas in the church, and in the home, it is amazing how ramped up emotions, feelings and attitudes can become. We feel that our way of arranging, organizing is the best way, and do not mess with me. And that's where I always go off the tracks, as if it is about me and not about God. Different cultures and different denominations have employed a wide range of colors and images for this holy season of Advent. My advice? Relax, enjoy whatever colors are up there. Wait for Jesus!


At 12:27 PM , Blogger kent said...

I always get confused about which Sunday is the pink Sunday is it #3 or #4? Does it matter? obviously if I have to ask it does not matter too muhc for me, but others ask and some how I cannot remember from year to year. I am tempted to alternate from year to year. One it is 3 another year it is 4. I have a litrugy difficency


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