The church calendar works very differently. We put out our purple cloths, not Christmas lights.. We focus on our internal preparation for the birth of the Christ Child - Emmanuel, God with us. This is a time of waiting, a time of longing. For me, it is a time of darkness, waiting for the Light of the World to come. I thought about that as I admired our purple cloth. It reminds me of the dark winter night, which will eventually be illuminated by a single bright star. Christian celebrations start on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and last for twelve days to the feast of Epiphany. This is when the Wise Ones, the Magi, visit the infant Jesus. His divinity and majesty are revealed by the gifts that they bring.
This Advent, we are using worship resources offered by the MCC Office for Church Life and Health. I love that every MCC has the freedom to develop its own liturgy and style of worship. We have inclusive language and the ‘open communion’ in common (this is God’s table, not ours, and all are welcome here). Apart from that, each church is free to worship in its own way. For me, there is something wonderful about knowing we are joining with other congregations around the world in using these Advent resources. We will be opening our worship with the same words, lighting our Advent candles together and sharing the same communion prayers. It is good to be different and diverse. Sometimes it is also good to feel as though we belong to something bigger.
That also takes us back to the purple cloth. Many folk in our congregation come from church backgrounds which do not follow the traditional seasons of the church year. Clergy collars, the liturgical colours and the lectionary are all new concepts to them. (The lectionary is a three year cycle of bible readings, agreed by different denominations). Many folk do come from traditions that do follow the patterns of the church year. For these folk, the purple cloth connects them with Christians all over the world, in MCC and beyond in our Advent preparation. Whatever our faith journey, we are all waiting for the same Jesus. May you feel connected and blessed as you prepare for ‘God with us.’