Second Sunday of Advent. Another candle lit. Waiting. Hope. Promise.
The very idea contrasts with our secular lives: bursts of incivility, tangles of Tweets, accusations and finger-pointing. Immersed as we are in the process of re-defining the meaning of equality and freedom, edgy intolerance and painful exposes are to be expected. Growth is messy; gains cannot come without sacrifice, and suffering is virtually inevitable. History has carried social ideals towards a new frontier, but the definition and the structures are not yet visible. There is the crumbling of what was and the wondering of what will be. There are losses beyond the imaginable and leaps beyond the possible. In the midst of all that, suffering is quite visible: there is mourning, denial, frustration and anger, violence and hurt. There are spaces where healing is not enough, reconciliation seems impossible, and uncertainty and ambiguity reign. Empathy has no voice, compassion no direction.
And so the second candle is lit, a flicker of hope, a personification of promise, an invitation to re-situate Life’s experiences. The whole of the human family has known such struggle. Fault and failure are hallmarks of every society; angst and agitation are characteristics of change. Advent is that subtle invitation to realize that larger whole, to dare to choose perspective and balance. It is a reminder that darkness and searching are simply part of the human experience. But it offers more than that.
The second candle is an invitation to look past the human and linger for a time with the Divine. It is the chance to explore the idea that there is something greater than what is human, something beyond what is intellectually or scientifically measurable. It is a whisper of faith in a God imbedded in the mystery of human experiences. Present but unknown, active but unacknowledged, powerful but humble, waiting and wanting.
The second candle teases darkness with its tender beginnings, opens a path towards an intangible More, leads to deeper and more meaningful questions. Paul wrote, “When I was a child…” in 1 Corinthians 13, and so circumscribes the very journey of human life. The second candle’s flame dances with the decades of so many lives. It is a reminder that no matter who you are, or when you are, or what you are, the promise of a loving God exists.
The second candle is a dare to begin, to believe, to hope and to find the More in the very reality of the world we live in.