Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hope: It's the first Sunday in Advent

We lit a candle in the Advent wreath at church this morning.
I don't know a lot about the celebration of Advent, for I grew up in small Southern Baptist churches in the Ozarks back in the Fifties and Sixties. Advent was a Roman Catholic church tradition and ritual, so we stayed far away from it. I didn't know what it was, why it had that name or what it meant until I had children of my own and was taking them to church in the late Seventies, maybe early Eighties. By then, we lived in a small town and went to the First Baptist Church where the preacher had a longing to be a high church priest or bishop or grand poobah or something.
On a Sunday, I guess it was in late November, he came prancing to the pulpit wearing something like a graduation gown without the cap. He said it was Advent season and we would observe the ritual. I did a little research later to find out what in the world Advent was all about and found out it was a time to prepare your heart for the arrival of the Christ Child. A graduation gown is not required, but I guess it made the preacher feel higher up and closer to the Lord, so more power to him.
It turned out to be a meaningful little ritual, so I guess the Roman Catholics had a good idea. Well, we left that First Baptist Church and took up with its missionary church plant over on our side of town, and we did not participate in any more Catholic rituals.
Then we moved to another town and found another little church to attend, and took part in no Advent ritual again for years. I go to that same church now, some 30 years later. It is out in the country, the only church I've found that makes me feel welcome and comfortable, in spite of my deep-seated redneckery.
They surprised me this morning with an Advent wreath and a reading about hope. It was a nice little ritual. I liked it.
Now, our church a few years ago under a different pastor introduced the Hanging of the Greens. That's what they called it in the bulletin, so that's what I called it in the church page notice of the newspaper I was sort of editing at the time.
Hanging of the Greens.
It's another Catholic ritual, and I did some research on it. Come to find out, it's the Hanging of the Green. Singular. Not Hanging of the Greens. Plural. Next Sunday we'll be doing that. No collard, mustard or turnip greens will be involved.

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