An Advent reflection from our Ordination Candidate, Eric Litman:
Light Your Advent Wreaths…….and Cue the Duck Boats!
Over the last ten years there has been an interesting addition to the cultural landscape in Boston, the introduction of the “duck boat parade.” With three World Series victories (and several other championships) Boston has become quite accustomed to sports success and the ensuing post-game celebrations. There are few things that have become more quintessentially Boston than the image of Big Papi traveling through the streets of Boston on a duck boat hoisting the World Series trophy into the air to the joy of screaming Red Sox fans. I’m waiting for the duck boat operators to start offering duck boat parade re-enactments. Who wouldn’t want to travel the parade route, hoist a replica trophy in the air and participate in this Boston cultural phenomenon as if it were the Battle of Lexington and Concord? This state of perpetual sports celebration was not always the experience of the Boston sports fan.
I still remember the morning of October 28, 1986 very clearly. I woke up to the news that the Red Sox had lost game 6 of the 1986 World Series to the New York Mets. Like most Red Sox fans, I was devastated. Losing wasn’t the worst part, it was the way we lost, the errors the wild pitches it was unbelievable and kind of humiliating. My Met fan cousins would never let me forget about Calvin Schiraldi, Bob Stanley and of course poor Bill Buckner. Many Red Sox fans suffered far longer and more agonizing experiences over than years than I, but part of the intense joy that we now know is fueled by years of loss, disappointment and waiting. It does seem that now we’ve come to a point in our city’s history where the memories of losing are long gone, and we are more than happy to let the good times roll. It’s hard to imagine that just ten short years ago there was no such thing as a duck boat parade. This iconic cultural event did not exist. The Red Sox are a historic team, and there is some responsibility amongst the “true” fan base to remember those dark 86 years, but remembering is difficult it’s far more fun to enjoy the success of the moment. The anxiety about what will happen next year is far more likely to challenge our upbeat sports fandom than remembering losing to the Big Red Machine in ’75. We live in this tension between our past, present and future.
During Advent we attempt to employ a similar type of community reflection. We remember what life must have been like for God’s people who had long waited for the coming of the Messiah, talk about the “dark years.” The Church for the past 2,000 years has been spoiled. We have only ever known victory, a world where Jesus came to dwell among us. Now that’s not entirely fair, we’ve likely all had experiences where we have felt very far from God or have not believed in God at all and we can resonate with what it feels like to be spiritually alone. This sentiment is part of what we are reflecting on during Advent, that we were once far from God but through the coming of Jesus we will be brought near. In this first part of Advent we remember what it was like for God’s people long ago, and in our own experiences to wait for God to come to us. Let’s get ready to usher in the Christmas season, but not quite yet. Advent gives us a chance to remember why Jesus coming into this world was so revolutionary. Let’s remember those who are far from God and prayerfully approach this season with the hope and expectation that Jesus will come to all who seek God’s joy and peace. Advent reminds us that Jesus comes to us again and again, and that he will return to us, the liturgy recalls this weekly when we confess the mystery of faith, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” This year when we light our Advent wreaths let’s remember that the Advent season helps the church avoid the “bandwagon” (nothing worse than bandwagon fans) so before we celebrate the incarnation let’s look back, within and to the future and prepare for another victory parade. When Christmas Day arrives we will be ready to cue those duck boats!