“…for he [Moses] endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27 NKJV
“The liturgical year…does not immediately plunge us in to the chaos of the Crucifixion or the giddy confusion of the Resurrection. Instead, the year opens with Advent, the season that teaches us to wait for what is beyond the obvious. It trains us to see what is behind the apparent. Advent makes us look for God in all those places we have, until now, ignored.” Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year
As we enter the second week of Advent, I haven’t even had a chance to share one tradition that we adopted when my husband and I first married. We discussed which traditions we wanted to keep from our childhood experiences, but we also wanted to start our own traditions as a newly married couple. We decided to celebrate Advent. I created an advent wreath out of greenery and four votives and a candlestick in the middle. We found a book called Christ in Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration. Each Sunday of Advent we would read the readings after lighting the candle for the week. Over the years we marveled at the changes in our family, from the first Christmas where we just read the text out loud to our infant son to the toddler years where with two little boys it was hard to keep them still during the readings. Then as they grew older we tried the activities the book suggested, and at the end of the reading the boys would fight over whose turn it was to blow out the candles. We still have the book on our bookshelf, but Advent devotions as a family are far and few between. Although last year or the one before, it was very touching when our sons joined in, each preparing a devotion to share with the family. Those years are mostly behind us now, as they both are working or in college. I still try to have my own times of reflection, and this habit of blogging my journey each Advent has lately become my new tradition.
I share our story, not just to conjure up nostalgia, but to show how one can see the invisible. How important these traditions have been in reminding us of the realness of Jesus in our midst. How he really did arrive in history, and how he will return one day. It is a mystery, but with spiritual eyes and stirrings of the soul, we can perceive that which is unseen. Moses’ story is worth revisiting as an example of how the immortal, invisible God manifests himself to mere humans. Let’s recount the ways he revealed himself to Moses and then the Israelites: a burning bush, the ten plagues, the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day, the parting of the Red Sea, the experience of receiving the ten commandments with all its natural and supernatural drama.
Later on Paul would assert his conclusion about God’s hiddeness:
Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Romans 1:19, 20 NIV
And may I suggest that following the liturgical year, and the reflecting on the meaning of each candle in the advent wreath, can be visible reminders of our invisible God.
Now unto the King eternal,
the only wise God,
be honour and glory for ever and ever.
1 Timothy 1:17 KJV