Yesterday (i.e. Tuesday, December 13th), in the midst of a regular schedule of monthly events, one of those special moments occurred.
Every 2nd Tuesday of the month, Nelson United is responsible for worship at the 2 complex care senior’s homes. A group of us from NUC attend and spend time with residents; we bring communion and lead in worship.
At yesterday’s worship service at Jubilee, there was a “special moment.” It wasn’t anything dramatic or particularly breathtaking, and it may have only been my awareness. But there was a moment of convergence, a moment of Spirit, a moment of perception.
It was a simple Advent candle-lighting worship, one that I’ve done for a few years. We light all 4 Advent candles—hope, peace, joy and love—and I have some readings that go with each of those themes. We finish with communion and a blessing. When I lit the last candle, the candle of love, I had this sense of hushed presence and profound love. It was beautiful and it seemed to be a shared moment.
I tried to recapture this same moment at the later afternoon worship, but it didn’t happen—at least for me in the same way. There is no rhyme nor reason to these “moments.” It’s not individual-dependent; it’s not something that can be fabricated. I guess the Apostle John had it right when he wrote, “The wind—the Spirit—blows where it wills.”
As I’ve thought about that moment yesterday—and it shouldn’t be overanalyzed—I realize that it was the perfect story for Advent. Into the midst of preoccupied people—staff concerned for residents, folk thinking about the next event in busy schedules, residents concerned about health matters or who might be visiting later in the day—came this moment of light and hope. For a moment, the hope, peace, joy and love that were the themes of the candles we lit became real in a new way.
That unexpected blessing is the nature of what this Advent-leading-into-Christmas season is about. Lighting candles helps; telling the ancient story helps, too. And isn’t that what we humans have been doing for thousands of years to help us make sense of our lives and live as part of a gathered community? Telling stories and lighting candles or a sacred fire.
The Christ is coming anew. And has come. And will come again. Into our midst, into the very existence of our lives, and all life, comes the new light of hope, peace, joy and love. And it often comes at an unexpected moment!