Eternity Sunday is one of the most sacred Sundays of the church year for me. On this Sunday at our church, we are invited to name a person important to us who has died over the past year, lighting a candle in remembrance. I lit a candle for my sister-in-law Ethel Clemmer, who died in February 2017.
After lighting candles, we receive communion. As we do so, the veil between those now living and those living on in memory seems to be as thin as it gets.
A week after Eternity Sunday comes the first Sunday of Advent – the first Sunday of a new church year. I always consider the week in between as my time to get ready for Advent, with simple rituals and tasks that I hope will nourish my spirit.
So here’s what I’m doing this week:
- Putting up the tree. Our tree is now an artificial tabletop one with attached white lights. Most of the decorations are from Ten Thousand Villages, or represent special gifts we have been given over the years. The tree looks too full, as I’m tempted to display all these treasures at once. This year I’m highlighting a beautiful cloth dove, made by a former parishioner with health problems who has since died.
- Setting up the home Advent wreath. This turns out to be not as simple as expected! Three years ago a major church supply store closed in Kitchener-Waterloo. I bought up three years’ worth of Advent candles at that time, thinking that would hold me for awhile. Now those candles are burned, and I can ‘t find candles in suitable colours for a home Advent wreath anywhere! So for a start, I’ve improvised with the few candles I have, whether of the “right” colour or not. I like to light a candle or candles each night during Advent as we begin supper.
- Decorating the front door. Rather than putting a Christmas decoration on our condo unit door, we choose a winter scene which Sam has photographed. It’s fun to walk the halls and see what people have chosen (if anything) for their doors.
- Displaying the Nativity a friend made for me many years ago out of clothes pins and scraps of cloth. I especially enjoy Mary’s flowing gown, the fuzzy sheep, and the colourful magi with their gifts.
- Buying tickets for Advent musical events. I love to nourish my spirit each Advent by wrapping myself in music. So far we’ve purchased tickets for Messiah at the Centre in the Square (an annual “must do”) as well as Menno Singers tickets for a Sunday afternoon concert.
- Buying the Christmas jigsaw puzzle. We found this one – Kittens in the Basket – at the Living Waters Bookstore, now relocated just west of Elmira, Ontario. We like their huge selection of puzzles.
- Choosing an Advent devotional book to follow. This year it will be a well-worn tome which includes the O Antiphons. Here is one of my favorite “O Antiphons,” especially fitting for welcoming the dawn:
O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light,
sun of justice;
Come, shine on all who dwell in darkness
and in the shadow of death.
(From Your Prayerful JOURNAL for Advent, Bridget Mary Meehan, Liguori Publications, 1993).
I’ve loved repeating this antiphon or the Song of Zechariah from which it is taken (Luke 1: 78-79) while welcoming the dawn.
And so I stand expectantly, waiting for Advent 2018 to nourish my spirit in ways familiar and perhaps also surprising….
Questions for Reflection:
- Are you part of a community that remembers those who have died by lighting a candle on Eternity Sunday or by some other ritual of remembrance? If so, how does this nourish your own spirit?
- What do you do to prepare your spirit and your house for Advent? How is your spirit nourished by these preparations?
Next Week: TBA