Lighting the fuse of advent

Light in darkness

For many years, I have collected nativity sets. I have them from many cultures, in many styles and of many eras. Some are minimalist, like Oliver Fabel’s offering. Some are visually stunning:

Zulu nativity

Zulu nativity

Others are quite simply bizarre, such as this one featuring three wise bishops and a triangular chicken:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This year, I am almost tempted to switch my attentions to advent calendars. If you had the budget to stretch to it, you can find them with everything from pictures and sweets to beauty products and bespoke gins hidden behind those 24 little doors. A positive view would be to say that it is all about anticipation, though a cynical one might say it was all about marketing.

I am seriously tempted to take the sayings of my favourite advent theologian, Alfred Delp, and hide them behind 24 doors. Take a look below, and see what you think. These words were written by a young priest in Nazi Germany, imprisoned for knowing too much. He wrote them with his hands in irons, and had them smuggled out of the prison in his washing. This kind of defiant hope is what advent should be all about, surely? I have placed five quotes below, but I am sure I could find 24…

 

  1. To wait in faith for the fruitfulness of the silent earth and for the abundance of the coming harvest, means to understand the world- even this world- in Advent.
  2. Advent is one of the primeval tides of the human soul, in which we become conscious of reaching out to grasp eternal things.
  3. The promises of God stand above us, more valid than the stars and more effective than the sun.
  4. Light the candles wherever you can, you who have them. They are a real symbol of what must happen in Advent, what Advent must be, if we are to live.
  5. This is the deeper sense of Advent: that we scrutinize this centre, little by little, and set up lights of recognition in our lives, and, from the centre, master life’s gloominess. 

 

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