Monday, December 16, 2013

Reprinting this essay from three years ago! It still speaks to the season so well.


The barren trees stand startled, this side of Christmas. The longest, darkest night of the year is close, this hovering between last year and next year, between old and new. For the last few weeks the cold has removed all ornament from the trees –acorns, leaves, pine needles. At my farm this week, the last few gum balls fell to the ground. The stark outline lets us see what the trees and the land really look like.

Advent is this time of removing ornament - adornment, a time for rest and dreaming, a time to get down to our essential selves. Even the trees draw their sap down into their roots.

So the trees seem startled at the colored lights and streamers and tinsel that get flocked onto them by cheerful humans. What is this extraneous finery at a moment designed for dreamtime, in darkness?  What is this curious impulse of humans who haven’t lived through the night out in the garden, where the trees shiver together, sensing and awaiting the earth’s movement? The trees know it is not yet time to bring a new thing into being, not even a new heaven and a new earth. How can we pull out tinsel when the work of darkness is not done?

Here at Epiphany the church is also without ornament. It is witnessing to its essential self. During Advent, it is remembering who it really is. On Thursday, the adornment, the decoration of our church was two big plastic bags of empty cans sitting on the front walk, cans emptied of their contents to be used in cooking for Peachtree Pine, for feeding 500 cold, homeless men. The empty cans are our Advent witness, our adornment. Our essential self.

Only now in these last days of Advent, something shifts. The sun shifts, the trees call the sap back, call life back, and the Christ child takes lodging in our hearts. Isaiah remembers his prophecy. And Mary, Mary, says yes. It is time to breathe a new thing into being, a birthing from within.

Only now, tenderly, do we bring out the colored lights and streamers and tinsel and prepare for a festival. Some great hope for the world is overcoming us and we turn to the light and its sweetness. A sense of possibility a hope for the world, a joy. Come people! A baby is going to be born!


The Rev. Cynthia Hizer
Episcopal Church of the Epiphany
Advent Lessons and Carols 2010