Advent and Adversity

                                           Much of my time lately has been focused on preparations for Advent season, now underway.  More than ever this year I am aware of an acute sense of dissonance between the season as it is portrayed and the way it is lived out in reality.  If the ads and store displays are to be believed, everyone has a home to decorate, money to load up the tree with presents beneath it and a loving family with whom to share the holidays.  And yet, Advent is by its nature a time of darkness, in which we seek light, in which our intention is to kindle hope.  As many Christian traditions are, this season’s celebration has pagan roots.

                        Wikipedia recounts that for Pagans back in the day, Christmas was a celebration of the sun god, Sol Invictus. In the late 3rd century, Roman emperor Aurelianus had a massive temple constructed to please Sol Invictus, and it was inaugurated on, you guessed it, December 25th. So as a Pagan holiday, Christmas is a celebration of the “birth” of the sun god Sol Invictus. These ancient Romans knew this day as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, translating to the “birthday of the Unconquerable Sun”. 

December 25th was believed to be the sun god’s birthday because of its proximity to the Winter Solstice. As you may know, the Winter Solstice (December 21st) is the shortest day of the year, after which the days start to have more and more sunlight. For this reason, the ancient Romans believed that this is the time when the sun won its battle against the darkness, hence the name the Unconquerable Sun.  (from Wikipedia).

              For those who may be experiencing their own darkness right now, or simply would appreciate something uplifting, I offer you a blessing from Jan Richardson, artist, writer and ordained Methodist minister:

              ON THAT NIGHT: A Blessing

              On that night when

you are holding

              your very last hope,

              thinking to let it go

              as too small to be saved,

              or sanctified;

              on that night when

              you turn away at last

              from the far horizon

              over which you had thought

              your life would come

              to find you;

              on that night,

              believe me,

              this is where

              the ache

              will give way

              to the mystery

              and the blessing

              that seemed so distant

              will quietly

              come to meet you,

              holding your heart

              in its two

              luminous hands.

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  Ms. Richardson has written numerous books, to include The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief; In the Sanctuary of Women; Circle of Grace and In Wisdom’s Path, to name a few. 

2 thoughts on “Advent and Adversity”

  1. I heard the bells on Christmas Day

    Their old, familiar carols play,

    And wild and sweet

    The words repeat

    Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,

    The belfries of all Christendom

    Had rolled along

    The unbroken song

    Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,

    The world revolved from night to day,

    A voice, a chime,

    A chant sublime

    Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth

    The cannon thundered in the South,

    And with the sound

    The carols drowned

    Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent

    The hearth-stones of a continent,

    And made forlorn

    The households born

    Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!

    And in despair, I bowed my head;

    “There is no peace on earth,” I said;

    “For hate is strong,

    And mocks the song

    Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

    “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

    The Wrong shall fail,

    The Right prevail,

    With peace on earth, goodwill to men.”

    Liked by 1 person

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