Friday, November 27, 2009

Advent 1 - Excerpts from a chapel service

It's the turning of another year.

Two weeks ago the temperatures dipped into the 50's and we were surprised to see all of Hong Kong suddenly wrapped in fur coats, big boots and turtle neck sweaters.

At the phonics center where I teach, my two and three year old students proudly show me their new little gloves warming their fingers... cute cute cute!

With the change in temperatures I find myself struck by stray bits of homesickness.

Last week as I looked out of a bus window I thought I saw some birds flying in a V formation -- are there geese in Hong Kong? I don't even know for sure.  But it made me miss the vast flocks of them back home in Wisconsin.

Suddenly with the colder temperatures I'm also thinking of my father, and how he would greet every December 1 by bringing fresh cut evergreen branches into the living room, filling the house with the scent of spruce for Advent.

Just when in most of the world (yes, even here in Hong Kong) the daylight hours are getting shorter, the weather colder and the last bits of garden vegetable are withering on the vine,

the ancient church has given us the gift of a liturgical calendar, in which the year actually begins now, with this first Sunday in Advent, looking forward to the birth of the Messiah, as well as to that day when He will come again.

"In those days and at that time I will make a righteous branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land." --   Jeremiah 33:15

In last week's South China Morning Post, I read that in the Henan Province of China (where it gets much colder than here in Hong Kong) , students will have a second winter of freezing classrooms because their school can't pay for heat.

Whereas at my "Hoppy Palace" phonics center, my students have dogs who get new winter coats every year (for those nights when it gets into the low 50's).

Advent:  There is reason to look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus, as if for the first time.  There are reasons to look round for ways in which we can help make the world a more fair place.  There is reason to look for the day when Christ will come again and really set all things right.

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