It’s Advent, and I know that for most, the tree is up and the holiday spirit is on. There is a goodness to the holiday spirit that pervades this time of year. In the darkness and coldness of the coming winter, there is hope and light and warmth.
“Ring Them Bells” is an old Bob Dylan tune. It almost sounds like a Christmas song, but for me, it is an Advent song. “Ring them bells from the sanctuaries… for the world’s on its side, and time is running backward, and so is the bride.” Dylan’s lyrics are usually a bit cryptic and always open to interpretation, but certainly the world is on its side, and it would be fair to say that it often feels like we are running backwards, and if the bride is the church, it is truth enough for us as well. There is so much that resonates for me in the song. It is hard to believe that it was written 25 years ago.
It feels often enough like we are not getting anywhere, like we are stuck in a snow drift with the wheels spinning and we have no idea how we will get free. These are not such hopeful times. By plenty of measures, we are stuck. As a country we are divided and as a church we cannot seem to figure out what we are about. The future seems so uncertain.
Still we put up the tree, we play some carols, and amazingly it brings us to a better place. What was dark and cold becomes bright and warm and hopeful. There is something evangelical about it as well. We can ring it out for the rest to hear…