Here in Canada at this time of year, it is getting darker. In the north, as we approach Christmas we are also approaching the shortest day of the year marked by the lengthening night and increasing cold. I took this rhythm for granted, having grown up in Saskatoon, located at the latitude of 52 degrees north, until I attended grad school in Vancouver with many international students who came from points further south. Vancouver was the farthest south I had ever lived, while my new friends from closer to the equator were startled by the changing length of the day as we settled into the wet, dark, Vancouver winter.
As we wait for Christmas to come this year, I live in Saskatoon again and I am seeing it through the eyes of my two and a half year old. It has been fun in the last six months or so to start noticing his increasing understanding of the world around him. One day in early November, my husband and I were making our requisite Canadian comment of how much darker the mornings were getting, and Oswald asked “why?” He’s not yet to the “why as the default question for every statement” stage, so I think he was genuinely trying to figure out our statement, why were Mama and Daddy saying that there was more darkness than before.
Whether a scientific explanation would have helped, or whether he was just curious why we seemed saddened by the change, until Oswald experiences both the increasing darkness and then the equally perplexing increasing light of spring, it will be hard to explain to him what is going on.
There is a reason that the Church historically chose to place Advent and the Feast of the Nativity (aka Christmas) at this time of year, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, we feel the Spiritual reality of our waiting each day.
We have to wait for the sun to come up after we rise from sleep to start our day.
We have to wait to see if the weather will be warmer again.
We are waiting for Christ to come – that first time in Bethlehem, when His incarnation changed the way the creation relates to the Creator – and waiting for the second coming, when the increasing darkness and brokenness of our world will be redeemed.
Thank you for joining us on this Advent journey. The New Leaf Network is a Canadian network spread across this northern country. We are people grappling with the reality of darkness we can see around us, while being confident that even when the dawn takes longer to appear on the horizon, the sun is still there providing for our world. Even when there are cultural shifts, or changes in the religious landscape, we hold on to the presence of Christ in our neighbourhoods, and our lives.
I am excited to share this reader with you for several reasons. One is that for each day as we approach Christmas a wonderful writer has taken the time to put their thoughts about Advent and waiting into writing. This wonderful collection of writers are a sampling of the variety of people who connect with the New Leaf Network. They are involved in churches and neighbourhoods across the country, engaging in the work of the Creator in their particular place. This group is not entirely representative of the diversity of our complex country, yet I hope you can see how we are better together, sharing from diverse perspectives to see the world more clearly.
The theme we have been reflecting on has been Waiting in the Margins. As we enter into Advent, and take a moment to wait, a moment to listen, we often find ourselves in the minority of people who take that moment to reflect. We might find ourselves on the outside of the majority culture, on the outside of the default opinion, on the outside of cultural power and influence. But, then in the midst of the Christmas narrative, we look up and find ourselves standing with those who had the privilege of witnessing the first coming of Christ.
We find ourselves standing next to Mary – marginalized for her pregnant status.
We find ourselves standing next to the shepherd – smelling of sheep dung.
We find ourselves standing next to Joseph – running for his life with his family in tow.
The story of Christmas is the story of the margins. We may not always be content to be in the margins, we may not always have the peace and serenity of a candle lit Christmas scene as we find ourselves outside the places of power and influence, but we can continue to ask the question, what does it mean to wait faithfully in the margins?
Welcome to this space, a little space held together each day as you receive these reflections in your inbox or link to them from social media.
Wait with us.
The Light Himself is coming.
Thank you for reading the New Leaf Advent Reader, a collection of reflections from writers across Canada. If you are enjoying the reader, sign up to receive the readings in your inbox each day here:
And please share this reflection with your friends and family who might also enjoy it.