A Pepper Grinder Post


We are attending an Anglican church.  This church is part of a denomination that has separated from the Episcopal Church, as that denomination (in the U.S., at least) has became more politically correct and less concerned with following the Bible.  Many of the people in our church were raised as either Episcopalians or Catholics.  They are used to the liturgy—the ancient, rich words, repeated week after week, which vary only slightly depending on what part of the church calendar you are in.

advent candlesMy wife and I were raised as Unitarians and have spent most of our Christian lives going to non-liturgical churches.  We still aren’t completely comfortable with the liturgy, and I’m not sure we will ever become people who cross ourselves, no matter how many years we attend churches like this.  Still, there are things about the liturgy that we love.  Every week we are presented with the central message of the gospel.  We are reminded that no matter how good we try to be, we are never good enough.  We have done those things that we ought not to have done and have left undone those things that we ought to have done.  God is absolutely holy, and we have failed and continue to fail to meet his standards of perfection.

But there is a solution to this seemingly hopeless problem!  Jesus Christ came to earth and freely offered to die in our place so that we could be forgiven.  What binds us together is not that we act better than other people, but that God has lavished his forgiveness on us, without our deserving it.  The last words we say before we walk to the front of the church to receive the bread and wine that represent the body and blood that were surrendered by Christ are, “Only say the word and we shall be healed.”

One of the things I appreciate about the church is the observance of seasons.  For the first several months we were going to this church, we were in Pentecost (I think Pentecost lasts about 6 months).  Then, on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, things changed.  The cross in the front of the church was draped with a different color cloth.  The rectors, deacon, and acolyte wore different-colored robes.  There were Advent candles—3 purple, 1 pink, with the big, white Christ candle in the center.  It was Advent!

dawnAdvent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means "coming."  I always thought of Advent as a time of waiting for Christmas.  There’s some truth to this; it is a time for remembering the sin-sick world waiting for the Savior to come.  But it is also a time of remembering that we are waiting for Christ to come again.

We live in the time of already but not yet.  Christ has already come to earth and defeated the powers of sin and death.  The veil that separated man from the presence of God has already been torn in two. 

And yet we still live in a world of misery.  Peoples’ attempts to escape suffering only make them and those around them suffer more.  We do not yet see the culmination of Christ’s victory.

We are waiting and he is coming.


*Photo Credits: winter dawn by