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What Clothes are you Wearing this Advent?

by The Rev Beth Knowlton on December 01, 2021

"Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting; for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven. For God will give you evermore the name,
‘Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.'” – Baruch 5:1-9
Last Sunday the collect for the first Sunday of Advent encouraged us to put on the armor of light. This week in the lessons appointed for the second Sunday we are told to remove the garment of sorrow and afflicting and don different garments. What is all this talk about clothing? Surely the ancients weren’t worried about who wore it better or what the latest fashion trends are this holiday season. I think what these images point us to is the very real power of our intentions. To put on Christ or to take off things that are no longer serving us are crucial practices in our spiritual life. I think it also points us to the reality that occasionally, perhaps especially now, we are finding a lot of things that don’t fit. They are no longer serving us and rather than seeing that as a negative, what if it is an important opportunity to don new habits that will serve us well?
Advent, like Lent, is a specific and short enough season to try some new things. What might not be working for you? Maybe in the face of what we cannot control, we take off the garment of anger and don the garment of compassion. Maybe my own frustration gives me the ability to see how others with less means than I do, live lives that rarely feel under their control. Maybe my mistakes from the past allow me to table my frustration and give someone the benefit of the doubt when they make decisions I don’t agree with.
Also, rather than succumbing to the temptation of the garment of sorrow, could I choose to embody joy and hope? Even in the face of much that is discouraging there is so much to give thanks for individually and as a community. My heart was full at our combined service last Sunday as we gathered together to sing and pray our hope for the advent of our Lord. The energy was palpable -- the Peace went on for a more typical St. Mark’s length as people greeted one another with joy. Our barges are full for the caroling this Friday and others of us will carol downtown on foot. That tells me that we want to proclaim joy and reflect the beauty of God back into our world.
As I mentioned in my sermon last week, I was taken by a book I read by John Tarrant cautioning to not accept the propaganda from the Ministry of Despair or the Bureau of Grandiosity. Besides being an amazing turn of phrase, it’s very much an Advent invitation. To set aside the things that either bring us too low or too high. As we enter the new year and start to hear from the gospel of Luke, we will hear again and again the invitation to find ourselves in right relationship with one another and with God. That is to be humble like Jesus, the Christ, and that is cause for great joy!

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