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by Susan Russell

The first candle of Advent — the Candle of Hope — is lit on the Advent wreath. We’ve prayed the familiar words “give us grace to cast away the works of darkness” and now we wait.

A friend of mine once described how “waiting” during Advent is different than some of the other kinds of “waiting” we do — waiting for a bus, for example. Waiting for a bus is both boring and anxiety producing. Will it be on time? Will I make my connection? Am I waiting at the right bus stop … what if I looked at the schedule wrong? Where IS that bus, anyway? That’s waiting in anxiety.

Advent waiting is more like being in the concert hall or theater, waiting for the curtain to rise. We know something wonderful is about to happen: and everyone else is waiting with the same expectation. We may know what to expect — we’ve bought the tickets, looked over the program — but the experience is yet to happen: and we wait — expectantly; we wait in the tension of both knowing and NOT knowing — open to the experience about to unfold.

I believe that is the kind of “Advent Attitude” God calls us to aim for: to live in both the trust and the tension as we wait for Jesus – as we pray, “O come, O come Emmanuel!” And I know some years — some Advents — like this Advent — are more of a challenge than others.

And so this Advent I take great comfort in these words from our friend Diana Butler Bass … a quote from her lovely piece in the Washington Post “Forget red and green: Make it a blue holiday instead.”

She writes:

Advent recognizes
a profound spiritual truth:
that we need not fear the dark.

Instead, wait there.
Under that blue cope of heaven,
alert for the signs of dawn.

For you cannot rush the night.
But you can light some candles.
Sing some songs.
Recite poetry.
Say prayers.

You cannot rush the night. But you can light some candles. And so my prayer is that together we will be given the grace to cast away the works of darkness by lighting candles of love, justice and compassion in a world in desperate need of all of the above — this Advent and always.

During the Season of Advent, we will offer daily meditations from All Saints Church. Today’s is written by Susan Russell, Senior Associate for Communication.