At Home, 3rd Sunday in Advent

It was raining steadily when we entered the church, crossing the threshold, moving from the secular to the sacred, from the cold outside to the warm inside.

Today, Rose Sunday, is a Sunday of color and light.  We light the third candle on our Advent wreathe, a rose one, and we move from a penitential mood towards one of rejoicing.  We are closer now to Christmas, to the brighter colors of Christmas.  The altar is still draped in purple, but there have been roses added on either side of the violet tented tabernacle.  We announce to the world the joy of the coming of our Redeemer.

Indeed, the Gospel for today is the passage about John the Baptist when he asks his followers to go to Jesus, ask him who He really is.  Jesus answers the question with the deeds he will do publicly, actions that will proclaim him as the Messiah, will fulfill the prophecies of old.  He will heal the blind, the deaf, the lame, the lepers.  He will preach good news to the poor.  He will proclaim publicly who He is.

And just so we proclaim publicly each Sunday who He is, as we portray the season in song and litany, in prayer and liturgy, in the great actions of the Mass.  Now, in Advent, we act out the coming of God among us, Emmanuel.  We sing together,

Visit then this soul of mine! Pierce the gloom of sin and grief!
Fill me, radiancy divine; Scatter all my unbelief;
More and more thyself display, Shining to the perfect day.

Just so, more and more of God is displayed.

And we proclaim in the secular world too, outside the threshold of the holy, in the many practices of Christmas: the tree of lights and sparkle, holding memory in each ornament; the carols of Christmases past, a liturgy in their own right; the cards we send to friends and family, pulling folks together with love; the presents we give from the heart and perhaps from habit as well.  We might attend a concert, as I was fortunate enough to do this Rose Sunday afternoon, where an assortment of songs and singers gathered around trumpets, piano, guitar, and flute, the space full of warmth and melody, of sharing the joy of music, of anticipation.  We might tell tales of Santa Claus, stories of Saint Nicholas, the giver of gifts to children, who flies through the night on a magical sleigh, with graceful reindeer.  Mystery.  Miracles.  Not far from the truth of Bethlehem.

We wait for His coming in the dark of winter, in the rain and snow, in these shortened days.  We wait for the light, and on this Rose Sunday, as we see glimmers and flashes of the brightness, we begin to rejoice in His nearness.

Our good Father Pomroy preached quietly today, thoughtfully. As we wait, he said, we draw toward Christ, learning more about Him, knowing Him better, understanding the answer to the John’s question.  We ponder these truths of Christmas, of Advent, of the great mystery of the Incarnation.  As our understanding increases, He loves in us, we love in Him, and we know joy.  A joy that transcends time, uniting past, present, and future on the altar.

We wait for and in “the perfect day,” as time collapses into joy in the Bread and the Wine.

St. Peter’s Church, 6113 Lawton, Oakland, CA; Sunday Mass and Church School, 10 a.m.; http://www.saintpetersoakland.com/;http://www.anglicanpck.org/.

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