“ Our whole life is an Advent, a season of waiting for the last Advent,
when there will be a new heaven and earth.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor, theologian and peace activist
This time of year is a beautiful and varied honoring of darkness and of light that live within and beyond us, interwoven throughout time and across spiritual traditions. This season honors a variety of traditions, and lights are lit and celebrated. The candles in Advent wreaths of evergreen, Hannukah candles of the Menorah, Winter Solstice candles and fires, and Kwanzaa candles, so many Lights! It is a time of waiting during the Advent season, of preparations and patience as the day nears when the birth of Jesus is celebrated. For me, I wait for this season all year long, for the lights and the music. And the music, ah, the carols and classical music, jazz renditions and folk melodies. I have always loved the music and words of The Messiah composed by Joseph Frideric Handel and sung by choruses across the world and here in our community! I imagine many of you may have been sung these powerful words in community celebrations of this incredible piece. “I know that my redeemer liveth” – an acknowledgment of the true humanity and divinity that we might feel through the music.
German Pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer offers a vision that we might be waiting throughout our lives for this a “last Advent” – a time of transformation, a new heaven and earth, realizing that God lives within us. But his was an active waiting, willing to speak and act through his revolutionary writings, speaking and actions, willing to push against the Nazi regime that meant he spent two years in prison and was executed just weeks before the end of the war. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created three years later in December of 1948, a result of the experience of the second world war. We can join in his legacy of active waiting, and lend our hands and voices and prayers for peace, an ending of violence, an increase of compassion. This season becomes a pathway for this active waiting, this time of preparation as we discover, remember the gifts we can offer and need to receive. We prepare and celebrate all that may unfold for us as individuals and as a community this season and into our new year together. I wish that each of us may embrace the darkness of contemplation and silence, and the hope within the light of this holiday season.
With gratitude and blessing,