Fasting is an ancient tradition during the season of Advent that I'm happy to report has fallen by the wayside. Otherwise, we'd have been denied the soup, sandwiches and dessert served up before evening prayer on the last three Wednesday evenings at First Lutheran Church.
It's hard to believe the last of four Advent candles will be lighted on Sunday --- and then it will be Charistmastide.
It's been fun to join friends at First Lutheran for Advent services this year --- and, of course, for the meals. That's Pastor Brenda Crossfield, of First Lutheran, at right; and the Rev. Fred Steinbach, of St. Andrew's, at left.
I've also enjoyed becoming reacquainted with Holden Evening Prayer --- a choral vespers setting developed by liturgical composer Marty Haugen during 1985-1986 at the Lutheran retreat center Holden Village in Washington state.
It's an ELCA Lutheran staple, but unfamiliar to Episcopalians. I never quite managed to master the Magnificat, sung in the form of a round, but discovered that by sitting on the north side of the church during the service --- we got to begin the round, which simplified things a little.
Others discovered this, too, and by the final Wednesday the weight of the congregation had shifted northward.
Blue is the traditional Advent color in Lutheran churches --- a practice that reportedly developed in the Church of Sweden. That's entirely appropriate at First Lutheran, where the roots are Swedish. Episcopalians tend to stick with purple, but liven things up a little on the third Sunday, Gaudete, with pink.
Those who wished to do so could bridge the gap between meal and service with a little adult coloring exercise --- the end product after three weeks would have been an Advent message in stained glass form. Here's Miriam Hibbs, in the foreground, hard at work.
I like to look at First Lutheran's stained glass --- brought to the new church in 1980-81 from the old, a towering 1903 structure still in place but used by others at the intersection of North 7th and Roland, and skillfully integrated.
This is the principal panel from one of the huge arched windows in the old church, now in the narthex of the new church --- it looks much better in the daytime with light shining through it. I'll have to go back and try this one again.
And now I suppose I'd better start thinking about digging out a few decorations at home. We're going to "green" St. Andrew's on Sunday, too.