This December I have been taken in by the music of Advent. I started keeping a visual journal of my reflections on the liturgical year beginning December 2, the first Sunday in Advent. As I add images to the page, it is the scripture inspired music that keeps coming to me.
First it was the phrase from O, Come, O, Come Emmanuel: “ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here.” At Faith we are singing two verses of this each week in a cappella as a congregation. That slow simple melody matches the mood of lonely exile. I think of friends who are struggling with loneliness or who are mourning dreams that got away. For my visual journal, I tried to find imagines that embody the constant whisper of prayers that rise from our own deserts every day. “O, Come, O Come.”
Then yesterday the Song of Zachariah was foremost on my mind. In Luke 1, John the Baptist’s father prophesies about God using his son who will prepare the way. I wasn’t just reading it, I was humming it! It used as a canticle for Morning Prayer. “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us.” It continues, “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” There it is again. The light breaking through whatever darkness we are in. This time in my journal I pictured God's light breaking through human time.
For me the brightest lights this December are not from the trees and houses that decorate my neighborhood. They come from the increasing number of candles each week on the Advent Wreath. They remind me again and again that Christ’s light is stronger than our darkness.
Is there an Advent (or Christmas) hymn that speaks to you this year? How is God breaking through into your life?