Today is the third Sunday of Advent. The third candle stands for joy.
Tonight I will light that candle with a trembling hand and a broken heart. My young friend died last Sunday night by his own hand.
There’s no joy in that. There’s no joy for his mother. There’s no joy for his friends.
Still, we will light the candle. We must. We must face the darkness. We must lift up our hearts.
I met him when he was just a wee babe. His adoptive father and mother beamed, more radiant than the sun. Their newborn son was golden.
I baptized him. I watched him grow. I watched him blossom.
He was the darling of our church.
He squirmed on the pew Sunday after Sunday between his proud mother and father. He looked up to them. His heroes.
His father sang in the choir. The boy watched, proud of his daddy.
And then out of the blue, a crash. His father died. No warning. No goodbyes.
My young friend was five years old. I stood beside him at his father’s grave.
There’s no joy in that.
My young friend made his way. Somehow. He sang in the choir. Like his father. He charmed the ladies of the church. Like his father.
He graduated. He found a job. He fell in love. The future was wide open.
And then this.
In the beginning darkness covered the face of the deep. And God said, Let there be light. And there was light. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “Day” and the darkness “Night.”
God did not eliminate darkness from the world. God named it. And sometimes that’s all we can do. We name the darkness and let it be. For out of the darkness life arises. Time and time again.
In the meantime, we light the candles of faith, hope, and joy. And next Sunday, the candle of peace.
Advent is a season of darkness. It’s a time to sit in solidarity with all who sit in darkness. We face it together. We long for the sun’s return.
When my friend was just a child, he stood with me in the chancel of the church and lit the candles on the Advent wreath. One by one.
Beyond the dark night of his soul I believe my young friend saw a light.
See Paula’s floral design on the home page.