We're approaching the conclusion of the season of Pentecost; the end of the Church year. As you've probably noticed, most of the readings in recent weeks have been apocalyptic, dark, and uncomfortably judgement-filled. Last week we read about the five women who were locked out of the wedding feast for failing to keep their lanterns lit. This week we'll hear about a man cast into outer darkness for burying what was given him in the ground. The message of these texts is troubling, but it is a preview of the message of Advent: "Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour." (Or, in other words: No really, watch for the Lord!)
In just three Sundays, the Reverend Fleming Rutledge will unpack the meaning of the season in her two-week Forum class "The Season that Begins in the Dark." In this class, all of the apocalyptic elements of the season will be fleshed out. We'll take a good, long look at the darkness -- the places we'd rather not look in our world and in ourselves -- before we catch a glimpse of that seemingly infinitely far-off and unlikely light of the Incarnation.
Now you and I have been well-acquainted with darkness these past few months. From natural disasters to human-made terror; national discontent to sexual harassment, we've experienced Advent, or living in the dark, for some time now. So on December 3rd, on the first Sunday of Advent, we're going to catch an early in-breaking of this Incarnation light when we celebrate the service of Candlelight at St. George's Church. This preemptive rupture of the darkness is oddly appropriate because churches have been celebrating Lessons and Carols services during Advent for hundreds of years. Some Christians must have thought we need a Laetare Sunday (a respite) not just in Lent but also in Advent. It's as if they realized there's only so much self-reflection you can do, and darkness you can take, before you need a foretaste of that wondrous Easter light. So, please, mark your calendars for Candlelight now, for it, along with Christmas, will bookend the Advent season with light and life. (Not only that, it's also one of the best services of the year, so you won't want to miss it.)
The Reverend Ben DeHart