Sun streamed through the stained glass, lighting on the Madonna and Child, splashing the pews, warming the cold winter morning at Saint Peter’s Anglican Church.
The Litany in Procession moved up the red carpeted center aisle – the thurifer swinging the sweet incense into the air, the torchbearers carrying the flaming candles, the crucifer raising the crucifix high over us, the celebrant in his purple cope, the clergy following solemnly. We sang together, Good Lord, deliver us, and We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord, as the prayers were chanted. The procession moved around the nave and up the center again to the high altar. As we prayed for ourselves and the world I sensed the darkness of winter, the waiting for spring, as the dancing patches of sun gave us hope.
In Advent we wait and we pray for our redemption in the manger in Bethlehem, and our redemption when each one of us dies. We pray for our redemption today, this minute, this hour. Death to life, dawn to day.
And our Deacon preached on time. God outside time, giving us the gift of time. Fascinated by the mystery of time, I thought how when we love, we lose ourselves in another and time disappears. When we give of ourselves, literally give ourselves away, we lose sense of time as well. Yet time continues to pass, marked by digital numbers changing silently, by clocks ticking, by bells tolling, by the setting and rising of the sun, night into day.
In Advent we wait in the deepest dark before dawn, the dawn of Bethlehem. We approach the end of man’s calendar year, yet begin God’s calendar year. The overlap of time intrigued me, as though our ends overlap our beginnings. We move through this life and into the next seamlessly, in Christ.
The Child in Bethlehem bridges death and life, night and day. The Christ Child is our dawn.
St. Peter’s Church, 6113 Lawton, Oakland, CA; Sunday Mass and Church School, 10 a.m.; http://www.saintpetersoakland.com/