Back in 2006, Susan and I had a chance to visit family connections in Sweden. There is now a chance one of our relatives we met in Sweden will be coming to Michigan during the week of October 21. Carl-Johann Ivarsson is a cousin on my mother's side of the family, a teacher in Sweden, who has done extensive genealogical work on this Swedish side of the family. We are thrilled to have another opportunity to host his visit at our home in Holland.
I bring up the Swedish connection as we look ahead into the ending of November and beginning of December. Every day the sun sets a minute or so earlier than the day before. When visiting Sweden, the "Land of the Midnight Sun", we experienced enough indirect sunlight still illuminating the night skies that I could read a book or a newspaper at 1:30am. Thick curtains blocked out this light so one could get a good night's sleep. As I write this, the sun will set tonight at 6:52pm. On December 1, when the First Sunday in Advent arrives, the sun will set at 5:10pm (at 4:10pm had we not set our clocks back one hour on November 3). Every day up through December 21, the Winter Solstice, the daylight will be less and less. Darkness will grow more and more.
Endings: The end of November marks both an ending and a new beginning. November 3 is the end of Daylight Savings Time for 2019. We will "fall back one hour", setting our clocks and gaining one hour to the day. November 24 is Christ the King Sunday, marks the end of a liturgical year called "Series C" that has highlighted passages from the Gospel of Luke for the most part. The end of November also marks the official end of the harvest season for most of these northern United States. To commemorate every year's harvest, people will gather for Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, November 28, two days before the close of the month of November.
New Beginnings: With the conclusion of the "Year of Luke" starts the beginning of the "Year of Matthew" and the start of a new liturgical year on December 1, falling this year on a Sunday. Advent Blue will call us to mark the advent hope of Christ's Second Coming and Final Return. To counteract the growing darkness as the setting sun's timing darkens our planet, we light one, then two (December 8), three (December 15), then four candles (December 22) on our Advent Wreath to prepare for the return of "The Light of the World, Jesus."
Darkness and Light, Endings and Beginnings...these are nature's rhythms and the rhythms of our faith walk as well. In John's Gospel, darkness signifies unbelief and light, faith/belief. May our trusting faith in God's love in Jesus lighten up like Advent candles, the physical darkness that will grow up to December 21. May our trusting hope in Jesus' return and anticipating celebrating Jesus' birth/God's Incarnation among us at Christmas lighten up (enlighten) our faith walk with this ever-present God, who loves us both eternally and in our every moment we call Life!