As we embark on the the fourth and final week, I want to acknowledge I’ve received some questions about the Advent themes and the “traditional” order they’ve fallen in. For some people and traditions the themes of Hope, Love, Peace, and Joy are familiar, but the expected order is different. For others the actual themes themselves may vary.
It’s all OK.
Traditions like Advent wreaths, candles, and the season itself don’t exist for our slavish dedication. They are rituals we have created to periodically remind ourselves of certain aspects of our faith. The point of them is not whether the pink candle is for Joy or the fourth week is for Peace, but to help us reflect on our need for Christ to enter our lives and the world.
Maybe mixing it up is a good thing. When people ask whether I get tired of reading the same scriptures every year, of hearing the same story of Jesus being born, or of celebrating them same seasons over and over, my answer is always: “No, I don’t, because even though the stories don’t change, I’m in a different place in my life and faith journey, so I am always hearing and learning something different.” Mixing up the weeks of Advent provides another opportunity for fresh perspective, while at the same time providing a familiar and comforting framework.
In a couple days our readings will include the Magnificat, the words of Mary as she praises God for using her as a vessel to redeem her people. Mary’s prayer speaks new messages to me every time I read it. It doesn’t change, but I do. For some people though, it will be the same every time, and that’s fine. They made need a slight change to hear new meaning, and an unexpected difference in the order of themes or a fresh Biblical interpretation like The Message may provide the catalyst.
So if your regular broadcast of Advent has been interrupted, I hope that has helped you see, hear, feel, consider, and learn new things. Christ enters the world in unexpected ways. Expect that.