Written by Bishop Grant LeMarquand - Temporary Bishop of ADGL
Not Too Blue Advent
In recent years, some church communities have switched the Advent liturgical color from purple to blue. I’m not really a liturgy geek, so I don’t really know the (no doubt) technical theological reasons behind this shift. In fact, I’m always a little wary of liturgical fads. This one in particular seems too trendy to me – I suspect a conspiracy launched by the ecclesiastical haberdashery big wigs to create a market for blue vestments!! But my paranoia about capitalist conspiracies aside, purple is the traditional color for periods of fasting and repentance, so why change to blue in Advent? Some ecclesial communities actually call Advent the ‘Little Lent.’ Purple seems fine.
This year, however, blue seems somehow appropriate – at least in the sense that most of us have the blues.
In most years the waiting of Advent seems like a joyful anticipation. We know what is coming – Christmas is on the way. And for most of us in the western churches, Christmas is the superstar of the Christian calendar. None of us wants to be in the category of the Grinch or Scrooge (let alone Herod) so the excitement of the anticipation of Christmas is probably the most fun any of us usually have waiting for anything.
Then along came 2020. Many of us feel like Easter was already stolen from us (some will blame the virus, some will blame the lockdown). A lot of us feel like a perfectly good summer was wasted worrying about getting sick or about making someone else sick, or about racial tensions, or about political turmoil. Ok, well, that’s how I feel anyway.
And now Advent is upon us. Advent, of course, is largely about hope. I could spend some ink talking about the hope generated by the possibility of vaccines being available soon or the hope that some feel with the coming of a new government (although for others this will be a matter of disappointment and dread) but, for the Christian, these temporal issues are actually all transient. Governments come and go. Epidemics even come and go. They are important and our Christian (or less than Christian) responses to these issues matter.
Still, for the Christian, these temporal issues are not matters on which we can rest our final hope – even our final hope for this world that God has made and which God loves. Advent is about a lasting hope, THE hope.
Advent reminds us that the world is not as it should be. But, since the world is God’s world, Advent reminds us that the world will be redeemed, will be rescued. Advent reminds us of what all the major Christian feasts remind us – Jesus is Lord. Because Jesus is Lord, the purposes of God for his creation –
including we frail and fallible human creatures – cannot be thwarted. Advent says Jesus is coming back to bring his reign.
A number of years ago, a friend of mine was at a Christian conference. After the day’s meetings, a group of attendees were sitting in a common room when my friend entered to discover a vigorous conversation taking place concerning the ‘last things,’ and especially about the events that they thought would happen around the second coming of Christ. At one point there was a lull in the conversation and one of the combatants turned to my friend. Knowing my friend to be an Anglican, he said, “Arthur, what does the Anglican Church teach about the second coming of Christ?” After a short pause, my friend Arthur responded, “He shall come again in glory to judge both the quick and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.” “Is that all?” said one. “That’s enough,” Arthur said. “That’s refreshing,” said another.
He will come again. He will make all things right. He will reign forever. That is more than enough. Have a blessed and safe (and not too blue) Advent.
+Grant LeMarquand, Temporary Bishop