Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Memories

“Advent  - (from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming") is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.” - Wikipedia

So there I was, sitting in church last Sunday, listening to the pre-service music, getting settled in my pew, when I notice the Pastor rise from his seat take his bulletin and flap out the Christ candle on the Advent wreath that the acolyte had mistakenly lit. 

You see, it was only the first Sunday of Advent, so only the pink candle and a purple candle should have been lit…  well, I hope that’s right because that’s what we ended up with after the bulletin smack down of the Christ candle. 

I’m not real current on my Advent candle lighting procedures since it has been many moons since I’ve been asked to acolyte.

Many, many moons.

Anyway, I found all this to be quite funny and filed it away under Advent Memories in my head.

Another Advent Memory of mine occurred when I likely was an acolyte, because in this memory, I have a front seat of the church view. 

A girl named Amie was singing in front of Mt. Olive, standing behind the black piano that was beside our Advent wreath.  Now the Advent wreath at my current church is quite substantial and tall, but at Mt. Olive our Advent wreath stood about four feet tall and was what I would describe as “spindly”.  I remember having to be particularly careful about lighting the Advent wreath for fear that the whole thing would go toppling over. 

And it seems I had to light that thing a lot!  I was a seasoned acolyte back in my day.

Anyway, back to Amie singing with piano accompaniment…

I don’t remember what song she was singing (maybe one of you out there can help me out), but sometime during the middle part of the song, an ember from one of the candles fell to the evergreen circle at the base of the candles.  Smoke started first.  Then flames. 

Now this wasn’t a catastrophic fire by any means, but Amie’s eyes got as big as saucers while she watched the flame grow to about three inches tall. 

While the rest of the congregation sat in paralyzed silence, our Usher Extraordinaire name Fred came up to the Advent wreath, Amie still singing and probably Eleanor still playing the piano, and put the fire out with is bare hands.  I can still see him patting and twisting those branches until the fire went out.

Fred was my hero.  Not that we were all in grave danger.  The interior of Mt. Olive’s sanctuary is mostly concrete, brick and stone.  The fire really wouldn’t have had anywhere to go.  And it isn’t like we couldn’t have used a less spindly Advent wreath, but… 

Fred was still a hero.   He saved Advent.

Fast forward to this past year…

My church holds an annual “Advent Fair” where the kids can make some sort of Advent wreath or calendar or other project.  Last year it was a wreath with a Styrofoam base, plastic evergreen garland, ribbon, and the five necessary candles all glued together.  We lit ours maybe once last year, but with memories of an Advent wreath catching fire in my brain, I find I’m not a huge fan of the at-home Advent wreath.  So after Christmas was over, the Advent wreath got placed in the attic.  I didn’t box it up, not that it would have mattered, because I was afraid it would get squashed and broken.  And after all, my babies made it!

Well, here’s what I found this year…

Seems that the 112 degree temperatures of our Oklahoma summer this year were too much for the Advent wreath. 

Quite the pathetic wreath, but funny nonetheless! 
I hope you’re preparing for the coming of Jesus, and I hope someday you share your Advent stories with me!


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