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Advent is the first season of the Church year, which leads us towards Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth. It happens, here in the Northern hemisphere, at a time when the days are darkening towards the winter solstice. Ironically, the darkest time of the year is when we celebrate new birth!
This year, during Advent, we’re going to look a bit at the “dark side” of Christian spirituality. Like the Force in Star Wars, Christianity has two sides, two streams. One (called kataphatic ) is the “light” side – the side of Christianity that is all about making sense of things, seeing our path clearly before us, understanding God and having clear beliefs and articulate theology. But God does not always make sense and the path is not always clear before us. At some point our understanding and our images for God fail us – and that is when dark spirituality (called apophatic ) takes over. The dark side reminds us that our understanding has and must have limits. Augustine said, “if you have understood, then what you have understood is not God.” Dark spirituality is about mystery, about encountering God beyond all words and images, about finding our way when we cannot see our path.
In Christianity, the dark side is not bad – it’s just dark. So as the days darken around us, and we move towards Birth, we’ll explore how Love finds us – and how we find our way – in the dark.
HOPE – Sunday December 2 – Communion
Our Scripture is Luke 21:25-28. Is it just me, or does it feel like the world might be ending around us? What are the resources of our faith and gospel for when despair threatens to overwhelm us?
PEACE – Sunday December 9
Our Scripture this day is Luke 1:68-79. Zechariah, John the Baptizer’s father, proclaims that God is a light in darkness to us, a guide on the path to peace. When times – or our hearts, or our souls, or our minds – are dark, how does God lead us?
JOY – Sunday December 16
Scriptures for this day are Philippians 4:4-7 and Isaiah 12:2-6. So often we think of joy as something that comes from good things happening to us. But we know that some people are able to be joyful even in the worst of circumstances. How does God cause joy to rise up within us? Where is joy in the dark?
BLUE CHRISTMAS – Friday December 21 at 6 p.m.
The Blue Christmas service is low-key, reflective, and accepting of people where they really are. A sacred space for people living through dark times.
LOVE – Sunday December 23
Scripture for this day is Luke 1:46-55, the Magnificat. In both of our birth stories, Jesus’ birth is all about God’s love – but that birth happens in very difficult circumstances. How do we find God’s love when we are in darkness? Does God’s love even send us into the dark sometimes?
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICES
7:00 PM Family
9:00 PM Contemporary
11:00 PM Communion
Candles and star at all three services
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