Each October and November, I get in the mood to do “fall cleaning”. As a kid, I helped my mom wash walls and windows, and ready our home for harsh Connecticut winters. We packed away summer bedspreads and curtains and replaced them with heavier bedding and window coverings. After a few days of housework, we stood back to admire our spruced-up home with the familiar warm comforts of the previous winter.
Many years later, I continue some of the same habits and find contentment in “being prepared” for the next season. I suspect our Altar Guild members find a similar comfort when they prepare and switch our seasonal church hangings to decorate the altar. The weather outside our church windows does not influence the hangings—rather the church liturgical cycle divides the year into a series of seasons. Each one has its own mood, theological emphases, prayers and scripture readings, and seasonal colors.
We are now in Advent—a four-week church season in which to prepare for the “coming” of Christ with devotion and joyful expectation. The Altar Guild switched the hangings from green to blue. The Flower Committee decorated the Advent Wreath; and for the next four weeks, we light its candles to special prayers. All these church traditions remind us of the One who taught hope, peace, faith and love.
Each year, I prepare for the “coming” of Christ with comforting cultural traditions at home. I deck the halls with boughs of holly, bake, shop and wrap, and find some temporary joy in the process. I admit, though, any lasting joyful expectation of hope and peace derives from a different type of preparation—a year-round effort to understand the scriptural reassurances that Christ will come again in Glory.
Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Luke 21:27