Monday, 1 December 2008

Advent beginnings with gong and candle

This morning's service for world AIDS day was very powerful. Red cloth was laid out in the centre of the chapel in the shape of the Aids logo. This was surrounded by small red votive candles which were all lit as the service began. In the centre of the ribbon tie was the advent wreath. (photos will follow soon)
The service began very simply with a gong sounding every fifteen seconds, each time it sounded a candle was snuffed out - to represent a person dying from AIDS related illness.
Each part of the service, each line from a hymn, each stanza from a psalm, each line of the Lord's prayer was carefully said as we waited for the gong. Gradually the light around the red ribbon became less and less.

Only one candle was lit during the service and it was the only one still burning at the end of the service - the first candle on our advent crown. A powerful symbol that even in the midst of death we dare to hope, that hope is what lights our path.
In both French and English we heard from Psalm 130 "I wait for the Lord, and in his word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than the watchers for the morning ..."
So Advent begins. News of death surrounds us. And we long for the values of God. We thirst for something other than that bloody, shocking and arid news which has the stench of death. We long for the breeze of hope, for a glimmer of light on our path forwards.
And we sang - Oh come, oh come Emmanuel ...