The Neighborhood Liturgies


May You Be The Light

May you find a light” I sang softly under my breath.

“To guide you home” I finished as I brushed away the freshly fallen snow from my grandparents graves. The air in the cemetery was crisp and the snow laid untouched covering the graves of loved ones from long ago. Allie and I were given the gift of placing the poinsettia in their urns. My hands were numb after retrieving the frozen metal buried in the headstones. Carefully, we placed the flowers into their final winter resting place. I could smell the mud on my fingertips as I wiped away a single tear. In the same haste that we arrived we left.

This is our second year observing Advent. After growing up in a nominally Christian household, Advent wasn’t something I was aware of. Strangely, I do remember my aunt having a plush Santa that we would move through the calendar starting in that 1st day of December. I remember the anticipation it would create in me every time we visited. Unbeknownst to me I was keeping in step with the church counting down the days hoping and waiting. As a child I would anticipate the coming of Santa Claus and his eight tiny reindeer. I was full of wonder and completely captivated by the season. My awe of the season lasted until December 24th 1999.

I had spent that evening on my grandpa's lap even though I was truly much too big to be doing that. He had grown his beard to look like Santa that year and I couldn't help but let him play the part. It was the last time I would ever talk to him. He developed a fever that night and passed away a week later. Less than a year later my grandmother was with my parents laying flowers at his grave when she herself would succumb to the human condition. A cemetery is a fitting place to embrace the season.

When I light our candles in our Advent wreath I’m especially aware of these loved ones that I’ve lost. As the wax falls from the candles I’m reminded that these lights are a temporary manifestation of the guiding light of Christ. I can’t help but contemplate the weight of eternity. This is why my focus this Advent is the promise that those asleep in Christ might wake to his glory manifest here on earth. 

We talk heavily on the incarnation of Christ but the second coming is the incarnation of us. It’s the moment we become fully human just as Christ is human. I anticipate the moment when we become by grace what Christ is by nature; divine. This second coming is the complete defeat of death with the realization of the resurrection into glory. At the time I write this we are in our third week which is a fitting time. It’s the week we lay with the most anticipation. It’s the one week in the church calendar that all Christians hold fast to the idea that our time is coming near. When we light our fourth candle we commit to the idea that hope will come because hope has come and hope has been commissioned to the church. As we observe this season let us ponder what it means to awaken to the light. Let us not just awake to the light of Christ but, be the light of Christ, the light of the resurrection now and a premonition of things to come.

Where there is the darkness brought into the world by the poverty of the soul; may you be the light that guides the world home.

-Charlie Porter

Charles Porter1 Comment