An Advent for Unitarian Universalists

The congregation I serve in Mississippi  had a guest minister (whose theology is Universalist Christian) come and preach on November 29th.  He asked the church to have an Advent wreath with candles to light.  The congregation decided to keep the Advent wreath for the remainder of the season up to the Christmas Eve service.

Advent isn’t something that Unitarian Universalists note every year any more.   Some congregations will have a service about the season of Advent but I bet these congregations are in the minority.   Advent is from the Latin word meaning coming.  It refers both to the coming of the birth of Jesus at Christmas as well as the second coming of Jesus at the end of the age.  It is a time of preparation, of expectant hope, of waiting for the Messiah to come. 

It is most likely because of our ambivalence to Jesus as being Messiah or in his second return that we Unitarian Universalists have not made much about the season of Advent.  So what would we as Unitarian Universalist be waiting or preparing for? 

In searching for some ideas to develop some Advent wreath lighting words;  I first came across EveryDay Unitarian’s blog about her reflecting on Advent.  And she referred to an interesting new blog entitled Twenty Six Days of Advent written by a Christian who is reflecting on Advent in her life.  In one of her posts she talks about our not choosing to be born in this specific time; in this specific place.  She compares this to the Christian teaching that Jesus was chosen to be born in a specific time and specific place.    She then states, “A specific time, a specific place. We were not chosen to be those who walked with Jesus in Palestine. We were chosen to be here. And what am I blessed to see and hear? What will prophets and kings desire to have seen and heard from what I have experienced? Is there anything in my life wondrous, noteworthy, mysterious? Living in the blank page, our response time to the coming of Jesus, all I can think is “there had better be.” There had better be something worthy left behind when I am gone. And I had better get to it.”

And this is where Unitarian Universalists can celebrate Advent.  It is in preparing our lives to be an example of something wondrous, noteworthy, and yes,  even mysterious.  As  Mary Oliver states, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do With your one wild and precious life?” 

Advent for Unitarian Universalists can be a time of planning, of preparing the way, of welcoming the coming;  if not of the Christ then of the arrival of another life [ours] lived in compassion towards our neighbors seen in the activities to rid the world of oppression and injustice. Such a life demands spiritual fortitude and spiritual practice to re-weave us when the cloth of compassion wears thin. Advent can be that season where we re-fortify our selves for the work we have chosen for this specific time and this specific place.  And we had better get to it. We had better get to it.  Blessings,

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2 Comments

  1. I like how you interpreted 26 Days of Advent’s quote for UUs. I really wish more UU congregations would honor our Christian past – even if it means reinterpreting for our present day beliefs. There can be a lot gained in studying our spiritual past and reclaiming that wonder.

  2. Thanks for the link in particular and the post in general. I think Advent does have meaning for UU’s regardless of Christology. Everybody needs a time of preparation, I think.

    My experience is a bit different from yours, however, in that both the UU churches I have pastored and the ones I was a member of observed Advent at least to the extent of lighting the wreath and saying a few words on the theme for the week (this Sunday will be the “peace” candle). My current congregation does it up a bit more because we are UUA and UCC. It is probably worth noting that the other congregations were all in New England.

    Anyway, thanks again! That link may end up insiring a sermon…


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