My childhood memories of the beginning of Advent are quite lovely and wonderful in many ways. We started singing Advent carols—with a few Christmas Carols thrown in for good measure. At some point, dad and I would string up a few lights on the house around the beginning of December. We would light Advent candles at our dinner table, as we did earlier this morning, to mark the 4 weeks to Christmas. The tree came a little later, but we’d start putting up greenery and decorations; that happened around here Thursday morning by the Décor Team. I remember a growing jolliness in the air, and the cold temperatures seem to bring a feeling of Christmas and hope even as we felt the cold of NW Ontario where I grew up.
As I grew older, I became aware of other things this season brings, some of which are harder feelings; long nights and short days can be challenging. Feelings of loss at this time of year, whether of a loved one or something valuable like a job or a relationship, can be quite acute. Feelings of loneliness and isolation can also be more acute at this time of year. And the growing commercialism of Christmas has made it harder for people.
Despite the growing excitement that Advent can bring, the first Sunday of Advent Gospel reading is hard, I have to confess. The readings are assigned by an interdenominational group of biblical and church scholars, fyi. Matthew’s words are challenging; in referring to Noah and how, except for Noah and his »»