As a child growing up in Texas, I attended a non-liturgical church. My family and I were there every time the church doors were open. I became well versed in the Bible and was baptized. Looking back at my childhood church, it reminds me of Texas’ seasons – not much changed throughout the year. But, then I began dating my future husband. He belonged to a liturgical church. What a difference! Banners, vestments, and altar cloths kept changing throughout the year. I experienced church seasons for the first time.
God had a great plan for the world before he laid its foundation. God determined to give his only Son to be the savior of the world. The first season in the church year is Advent, a season of waiting. In Advent, we look to the past and long for the future; it is a season of hope in the season of winter.
Like the Jewish people before us who waited for hundreds of years for Messiah to come, we look back to Christ’s first coming and forward to his second coming. By faith we can say with Simeon at Messiah’s first visit to the Temple, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in t he presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for the glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32 ESV).
By faith we believe with Paul about Christ’s second advent, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 ESV).
In nature, seasons occur in the same sequence year-after-year, i.e., winter, spring, summer, and fall. Although these four seasons have the same names, each year they are different. Not every fall is spectacularly gorgeous. Some winters are warm, while some springs are chilly. Thus, it is with the church calendar. The same cycle of seasons occurs year-after-year beginning the Advent; yet, the church seasons seem to change when, it is we who change.
Shortly after Dale and I got married, I constructed an Advent wreath for our new home and invited my mother for dinner. I was so proud of my home, my creativity, and my cooking. Almost immediately after my mother arrived, she pulled me aside and said, “Ann, that wreath is beautiful, but wouldn’t it be better to have red and green candles rather than that blue and pink?”
Written by Ann Wolfer, St. John Lutheran Church, Roanoke, Virginia.