Leaves have already changed color and some of them have even fallen. The first frosts have started appearing on the grass at church. With Halloween behind us, we are now looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can’t help but feel the anticipation of the coming holidays as they approach with what feels like ever increasing speed.
Similarly, things have begun changing in the church. Just as the trees have been rapidly changing colors, our sanctuary will be quickly changing colors too - no two Sundays in a row will be the same! Our sanctuary was just red to commemorate the reformation which will be followed by All Saints Sunday on November 7th with white to remember all the saints who have gone before us. We will see the last bits of our liturgical green paraments after a long summer of them on the 14th before we switch back to white for Christ the King Sunday November 21st. We end November with the blue for the beginning of Advent on the 28th. The different church holidays along with the national holidays like Armistice Day (Veteran’s Day) and Thanksgiving is enough to give someone whiplash!
In hopes of tying all these holidays and seasons together, we are going to change our kyrie to an Advent song, “Come Now, O Prince of Peace”. The Kyrie is meant to be a plea for mercy, peace, and salvation and “Come Now, O Prince of Peace” fits the bill perfectly. It is a short hymn that is relatively new (circa 1991) but has the feel and gravity of some of our old, classic favorites. It is my hope that this little hymn will give us an anchoring point for the pre-advent season and will carry us through November and into December.
We are starting this new hymn on All Saints Sunday. This is a perfect time for asking for peace and reconciliation because All Saints is a time to remember how even though our loved ones may not be physically present with us, they are still with us in memory and spirit. The lack of the physical presence of our loved ones, whether they are newly departed or have been welcomed into heaven for some time, can make Holidays difficult for many of us. I encourage all of us to be open and honest about our emotions. I pray that we can accept each other's vulnerability with compassion and understanding. It is important to do this because it reminds us we are not alone in our grief and gives us the opportunity to be the body of Christ for our community. God knows our hurts too and weeps with us, just as Jesus wept for his beloved friend Lazarus.
The Good News is that our God is not an unfeeling deity watching from a distance. God loves us so much that God became enfleshed in the person of Jesus and came to Earth. Jesus is Emmanuel - “God is with us” and we wait for his coming throughout Advent. Jesus came to Earth so that he could walk with us, eat with us, celebrate with us, cry with us, and love us unto death. My prayer is that we all may recognize God’s deep, profound desire to be with us and find comfort in it, in the weeks and months to come.