How there was any light at all in the stained-glass windows, I will never know. The sky was as gray as William Gibson's proverbial dead channel, the ground was wet, the snow crunchy, the commons silent, still, and deathly chill. The mist took me to Ravenloft, in mind if not in body.
Every Sunday of Ordinary Time, or at least the ones I made it to, started with a processional hymn, accompanied by organ music. Today was the first exception, and the longest to date - there was no accompaniment at all, and the processional wound through the church two or three times as we sang the Great Litany. It was beautiful - right up to its jarringly abrupt ending.
In the Episcopal Church, the liturgical color of the season is blue. Even though it was visible and I had only to behold, it didn't register until it was told to me. I was startled. I was always startled, today.
The Gospel was Luke 21:25-36:
"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see "the Son of Man coming in a cloud" with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
"Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."Signs, foreboding. Wars and rumors of wars. As we celebrate Advent, the readings are dark, because our celebration of the first coming flows seamlessly alongside our expectation of the second. Not for nothing was Christmas set to the days after the winter solstice: the darkening is part of the season.
As the first Sunday in Advent, today also marks the turn to Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary. Maybe that was why I had no idea why I spent this year consistently wrong about what readings were coming up next week.