Celebrating in Community

I hope no reader will suppose that “mere” Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions–as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else.

It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms…It is in the rooms, not the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at…when you do get into the room you will find that the long wait has done some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping. You must keep on praying for light…And above all, you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling.

In plain language, the question should never be: “Do I like that kind of service?” but “Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?”

When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall.

-C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity 

How delightful it is, after some time, that I have found a room that has become a home, that reinforces the liturgical practices that restored my faith, that provides a community in which to experience the Advent season like I never have before.

The richness of language in the Book of Common Prayer–which, when not directly quoting Scripture, draws heavily on it–sustains my thoughts longer than I thought possible.

I found the Anglican daily prayers before I entered the room of the Anglican church, and consequently “celebrated” Advent and the other liturgical seasons alone. Though this may have been necessary at the time, celebrating the season of Advent in community makes all the difference. From the Advent wreath that marks the passing of time, to the liturgical color of the season (for us, Advent is represented by a deep blue), to the Advent collect, to praying through the season with others, I have found a home which my conscience moves me towards.

Whatever room you are in, I hope that you find yourself fully engaged in the traditions of your community this Christmas season. And if you find yourself in the hallway, perhaps this season of darkness, light, and new beginnings can provide clarity and hope as you wait.


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