It took her a few minutes, but when Zoe took a good look at the living room this morning, she noticed that Something Was Missing.
“Where’s the Christmas tree?” she asked. When I explained that we had put it away until next year, there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But fear not! We have been cast not into outer darkness, but into the season after the Epiphany: the season of light! So even though the Advent wreath got packed away with the rest of the decorations (well, most of them–I am still rounding up the strays), we still light a candle and sing our Advent hymn, “Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah.”
We do this not because it is liturgically correct (it isn’t), but because Zoe demands it. And while we are not the kind of parents who will leave the Christmas tree up all year because our child loves it, we are the kind of parents who will sing Advent songs no matter what the season. (It turns out I am also the kind of parent who will buy my child almost anything if it costs a dollar or less, but that is another story.)
So every time we sit at the table, we sing:
Light one candle to watch for messiah
let the light banish darkness.
He will bring salvation to Israel.
God fulfills the promise!
It’s a beautiful song. And even though Advent and Christmas have come and gone this year, we are still watching and waiting for the Messiah to come. We are still longing for the light that banishes darkness, for salvation, for the fulfillment of God’s promise. Not because Christ didn’t come at Christmas, but because Christ comes to us after Christmas, too, in the already-and-not-yet ways that frustrate, startle, and amaze us.
So keep singing those Advent and Christmas songs if you want to. Linger at the manger, at the river Jordan, in the field with the shepherds. Follow the star that leads to the light that shines in the darkness. No matter the season, the darkness does not overcome it.