Reflection for December 23rd, by Nate Crary, Director of Worship
In “Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US,”
Lenny Duncan writes this about our church:
“During Advent, we spend an entire season struggling through the darkness looking toward the coming light. The primary symbol and image we use for the season is the anticipation of an emergence from darkness to light. We could focus more broadly on Holy Anticipation. Or the God Child being born into a world where empire will try to lay waste to him. Or a God who throws God’s own self upon the world, clothed in vulnerability and dependency. Or the place of unwed teenage mothers in our world. Or the slaughter of innocents by a leader grasping for power. We don’t tend to focus on the theme of refugees fleeing radical evil. Or preparing the way of the Lord by creating conditions more conducive to grace. Nope. We have reduced the Advent season to “from darkness to light,” a theme reinforced by repetition and tradition. And darkness is just another way of saying blackness—another symbol that equates blackness with evil and light (whiteness) with good.”
Why do so many of the favorite Advent and Christmas hymns we love to sing reinforce the idea of blackness being bad and whiteness being good? How have I been okay with this? What do I need to admit to myself in order to change? In what ways do we need to own up to what we’ve been singing for so long?
My prayer is that we no longer reduce the Advent season to themes of “from darkness to light,” but to themes that give power to and express beauty within the blackness that invites us into deeper relationship with God and with one another.