The Candle of Preparation

Advent – Week 2

GET READY!

So, yes, this day begins the SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT and now the second Advent candle will be lit!  A miraculous world changing event will   take place..

Black_Madonna

The second Advent candle represents how God prepared to send a Savior into the world and how God kept his promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem.  Yet, before a promise can be realized, special and careful preparations must be laid in advance. We can find the announcement of what God had in mind long before the actual birth of Christ.

blog_2014_Advent2_3Kings_HOTO

As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.‘ (Luke 3:4-6)

As a vital part of keeping the promise, preparations were made by God in advance. Three kings were summoned to take a journey that would end up in Bethlehem, in a stable, where they would see the promised child.

blog_2014_Advent2_3KingsMary_Photo

Three Kings  prepared for their journey by selecting precious, costly gifts;  they intended to offer the gifts to this child-king. The gifts were selected, and their long journey by night began as they traveled  towards Bethlehem. The traveling kings  had  the best GPS system of all –  the bright, enormous star  in the heavens!

“An old idea must die.  The three wise men had to give up the present world view when they embraced Christianity,”  T.S. Eliot said.

***

Currently, I’ve been  reading The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, MD. I read the book when it was first  published in the late 1970’s.  The book is  so successful that he  revised it in honor of the 25th year of the first publication.   I read the revised  book two more times, this month.

As I work on this series of essays on ADVENT, I find Peck’s  thoughts on  miracles timely. I am certain we must have a consciousness of miracles to understand the Christmas story. And, where do we find this kind of belief in the twenty-first century world view?

***

Peck  wrote:

“I am certain that miracle abound.

We are assisted in miraculous ways.

If we remain open, then we will see miracles.

If we routinely look at ordinary experiences, we will begin to see the miraculous.”

***

Sometimes, I am making art all night long in my dreams. There have been nights when,  in my dreams, I was shown how to do a new technique I had never seen before, or, I was  given exciting ideas for a work of art. At times, I saw myself from a vantage point above, apart from my artist self who was creating a painting. It was as though  I was given lessons and shown how to do it by my dreaming self.  M. Scott Peck, MD.  wrote of such dreams  and dream-instructions that originate from deep within our subconscious mind.  The subconscious part of our mind, he contends,  is over 90 percent of our brain. That leaves only 10 percent of our brain for the conscious level that we use and are aware of continuously.

I have a hunch that it was through the subconscious mind  (Peck says it is  where the SPIRIT dwells in humans)  that the three kings were inspired to start out on this most unusual journey.  Were they shown images of what they would discover when they arrived? I think, maybe so! They definitely had Divine guidance and perfect timing.    Was this the place from which the wise men were guided as they looked into the miraculous night sky with the star that was there as a visual landmark for them to follow?  Miracles are found when we are open to the ordinary and everyday. From the beginning o9f the Bible, In Genesis, we are told repeatedly to look towards the heavens for miraculous events in the Sun, Moon, and Stars.  I intend to keep looking!

***

Preparation means to “get ready.”  God takes our passions and our desires and He makes a way for us to live the life we were meant to have from the beginning.   The   Three KINGS had no “Plan B” – no “back-up plan.” I am sure of it!  They were on a mission and it was “Plan A” all the way! What are your plans? What have you been preparing for? What are your dreams?  Bring them to the one who has a PLAN A for you life.

***

Far away from Bethlehem, on  an island in the Atlantic Ocean, Christians celebrate Christmas and Epiphany in Puerto Rico.  They commemorate the ancient journey to Bethlehem.

One of the most exciting courses I had the privilege of teaching at Geneva College, in Pennsylvania, was a team –taught course. This travel/study course  focused on Puerto Rico  culture. Our teaching team consisted of a  variety of colleagues from numerous disciplines in Humanities and the sciences. We  offered the course every spring semester. As part of that course, students traveled with us to Puerto Rico.  Once we arrived, we spent ten days working in various cities and locations on the island.

One of the  traditions that thrilled me is the making of SANTOS by Puerto Rican artisans. I  came  back home every year with some new ones I purchased on the trip.  One of the themes that is very popular for SANTOS is the THREE KINGS.  I bought the SANTOS in local stores and in museum gift shops on the island  and they have a prominent place in my home.

GE DIGITAL CAMERASANTOS  are  hand carved  religious sculptures, of saints. Most are  painted wood statues. They are traditionally twelve  inches or less in height.  Each is signed by the artist who made it, and each is one-of-a-kind art.

For the theme of Advent this week, I thought about the many steps of PREPARATION that an artist takes when she decides  to make a painting. Decisions must be made about what to paint it picture on?  What kind of paints to use?  What colors will be best to create a mood?  What utensils will  do the best effect?  What size should it be? Preparations lead the way to what will become a work of art, eventually.  The artist begins the journey after the plans are set for the painting.

Blog_2014_Advent2_TheThreeKingsPhotoThe final thing I want to share with you today is  music that celebrates the Preparation and Hope of the two Advent candles we have lit. You can continue, below, and find some links to music and art.

Light  the 2nd candle and think about the meaning of it this week.

Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xtpJ4Q_Q-444

This link will take you to a performance of the same Christmas Carol and there are images of Medieval stained glass windows. Be sure to watch the images with the music and you will see many ways a rose has been depicted in them. We discovered the meaing of the Rose in my previous essay for the Fist Week of Advent – symbolic of Hope.

Roses appear  in the hair and halo of women;  in bouquets; and clothing ornaments  in the colorful mosaic  pictures

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q6iesplJRM

You may love to visit another blog and see more about Puerto Rico and how Christmas is celebrated on that island. If so, you can visit, “Day by Day with Maria.”  It’s  a blog by  María de Lourdes Ruiz Scaperlanda

http://daybydaywithmaria.blogspot.com/2013/01/los-tres-santos-reyes.html

On January 6, in Puerto Rico, the Christians will celebrate the arrival of the THREE KINGS who reached their travel’s end in Bethlehem.

Here is a song of celebration that the Christians in Puerto Rico sing on January 6th

http://daybydaywithmaria.blogspot.com/2013/01/los-tres-santos-reyes.html

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