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Advent Atrium Reflection

By: Kimberly Watt – St. Paul’s Director of Religious Education

A few years ago, on a particularly dark morning in December, some of my level one atrium (3-6-year-old) students were gathered around the purple-swathed prayer table, listening as I read from Isaiah 9:2, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who lived in a land of gloom, a light has shone.” They were listening for clues as to what great gift God would send to the people of Israel.
“What would it be like to walk in darkness?” I asked.

Suddenly, the white twinkle lights in the trees that line the room were all extinguished, leaving only dim light filtering in from the sleet-streaked window in the corner. I checked the hallway and confirmed that the power had gone out.

“Um, Miss Kimber,” one boy said from the art table, “will you please turn the lights back on?” In vain, he flipped the switch on the lamp next to him.

“I can’t turn them back on,” I explained. “The power is out.”

“When will it come back?”

“I don’t know,” I replied as I lit the candles of the Advent wreath to give us more light. “Now we are sort of like the people who walked in darkness, aren’t we?”

We went about our class time, but it was peppered with little voices asking when the lights would come back on and my reply that we would have to wait and see.

“Waiting is hard,” one boy sighed as he held the icon of the prophet Isaiah. We were indeed like the people of Israel, waiting for the lights just as they had waited.

Anticipating not mere twinkle lights, but the Light of the World, who would dispel the darkness of sin. They didn’t know when He would come, but they waited, hoped, and prayed for His coming. They took heart from the words of the prophets.

Another verse we meditate on with our level one atrium students is Isaiah 9:6 which reads, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Eventually, the lights came back on to much rejoicing, we all gathered around our prayer table to sing and pray, and the students went home. As I was tidying up after they left, I glanced at chapter nine of Isaiah again. My eyes focused on the phrase, “a son is given to us.” To us. To me, God gives His Son.

What a gift! I thought of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” I began to substitute my name and the names of my loved ones for “the world.” For God so loved Kimber that He gave His only Son…

Now Advent is coming again, and we’ll put up our purple tablecloths and light purple and pink candles while singing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” all as a reminder that “He comes.” Just as He came to the people of Israel, for them, but also for us, He comes to us now each time we go to Mass, in the humble disguise of bread and wine, which contain His true presence. We wait, like Israel waited, for He has promised to come again in His glory.

I pray that this season of Advent will be a reminder that God so loves you that He gives you the gift of his only begotten Son, so that when He comes in His glory, you may have eternal life with Him.