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Monday, November 30, 2009

Here is an image of the front cover of Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. I spoke about this image in my sermon on Sunday. I see the single flame breaking into the darkness as an evocative symbol for the role that meaning and purpose for living have in our lives. It is also a great image for the first week of Advent.

On Sunday we lit the first Advent candle. Many Christian churches use the Advent wreath during the pre-Christmas season. The first Sunday’s candle is for HOPE. The successive candles are for PEACE, JOY, and LOVE. The wreath is, of course, a circle, which in many cultures is a symbol for eternity, or infinity- things that do not have a beginning or an end.

Last week I asked children and adults to come to the front of the sanctuary and help me make a circle, which represented the circle of the church year. The suggestion has been made that the repeating cycle of the season of the church year is also symbolic of the infinite nature of God.

When I was reflecting today on the last two weeks of worship at Trinity, I made a connection between seeing the kids and adults standing in a circle, enacting the cycle of the church year for the rest of the congregation, and one of the points in my sermon for this week, which is that according to Frankl, those who devote themselves solely to their own happiness never achieve it.

Our meaning, and our hope lie in learning to live our lives in service to others- in dispelling the darkness with light.
Advent is the season in which Christians anticipate the birth of the Christ child. One of the theological words used to refer to this is "Incarnation", literally, the divine entering into flesh. Jesus is described as "embodying" the love of God.
We are called to the same work- to "incarnate" God's love for other people. As we do that, it becomes that much more real for us as well- we can see by the light of our own candle.