This Advent I've asked a cross-section of Anchorage pastors representing a variety of faith traditions to submit a brief Advent Reflection under this year's theme: "Does Celebrating Advent Really Make a Difference?"
Our next Advent Reflection was submitted by Pastor Martin Dasler, Assistant Pastor of Amazing Grace Lutheran on the hillside.
Does Celebrating Advent really make a difference?
In nearly 40 years of ministry I have watched people’s love of Advent continue to grow. When I began as a pastor in the early ‘70’s, Advent was a more austere time. Like Lent, the color purple emphasized a time of repentance.
Today many churches have changed to blue, the color of Mary and hope. This season, synchronized with a growing darkness in the North, stirs up our longing for a better world. One can hear that longing in the scriptural libretto of Handel’s Messiah, the music of Mozart or the songs of John Denver. All long for a better world or a love that seems unattainable.
“In the days to come...they will beat their swords into plowshares” speaks the 8th century BCE prophet Isaiah. If you long for a better world, a better government, a better self, Advent speaks to you. Advent is filled with redemptive desires and hopes. In a world filled with too much disillusionment and disappointment, Advent speaks to the profound desires of young idealists as well as to the lost hopes of crusty cynics.
There is a delicious richness in the Symbols of Advent. Four candled wreaths or logs, and countdown calendars encourage participatory preparation. The Advent stage fills with the magnificent poetry of Isaiah, Amos, Micah, John the Baptizer; then resounds with the hopeful or joyful songs of Zachariah, Mary and Elizabeth. It’s a time for Protestants to join Catholics to remember and admire Mary, and to sing with her songs of hope and promise.