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The Lights of Advent - Candles and Kilowatt hours

On the first Sunday of Advent, our pastor spoke on the first eighteen verses of the gospel of John. It has many intriguing references to light and encompasses creation, the new creation and the source of life.

I am a strong believer in the amazing and complex interconnectedness of our life here on earth. For that reason, I sometimes have a difficult time analysing the challenges of creation care without trying to see how it fits together with things like material wealth/poverty and racism.

In 2019, Beira, Mozambique became  the first ever city annihilated by climate change. AND it barely made the news; while the fire of Notre Dame topped the CNN charts at number one. Would Beira be remembered if its citizens were white? Of the 197 Paris climate signatory countries, only 8 have made significant pledges and none of them are developed countries or majority white. 

There is no urgency for many developed, white nations to actionably address climate change. Consequences are out of sight, out of mind and every day we waste is paid for by People of Color. 

At time like these… the dark days of winter… the many days of change… it can all be overwhelming and uncertain. Maybe that is why the season of Advent falls at this part of the liturgical calendar, because it is a time when I need even greater reasons for hope… for the anticipation of new life. Theologian Walter Brueggemann puts it this way in one of his poems:

When Life Crashes
Now, in this hour of free-fall,
be your good self again,
meet us not according to our flaw
but according to your generous self-giving:
Be our Christmas,
and start the world again;
Be our Easter,
and draw us from death to new life;
Be our Pentecost,
and breath on us to begin again;
Be your full, generous self toward us;
we will begin again in obedience,
and as we can obey,
we will begin again
in wonder, love, and joy.


At our men’s reintegration group, we often end with lighting candles. We acknowledge our Creator as the source of light and we symbolize that in the small flame. We take turns voicing gratitude, offering up prayers and giving our hearts to those who hold us.

The created natural source of light that is the sun, is also something that amazes me and is shrouded in more mystery than we give thought to. The power it harnesses, the energy it unleashes and the distance it travels is mind boggling. And for us to be able to put up black panels of glass and circuitry on our roofs for electricity capture is so cool!

Recently my family, inclusive of three generations living in a duplex, undertook an extensive energy retrofit renovation. You see our final energuide rating report pictured above and we are really encouraged that doing this has meant getting our energy usage of two single family dwellings with over 170 GJ each, down to one dwelling at 67 GJ. In all we did adding insulation, new doors and windows, I am most excited about the solar panels. Lots of people love the numbers and can geek out with apps and graphs, as also pictured above in the article. But what moves me most is the mystery of it all… how our Creator can weave together a universe with such art and beauty, to make a sun so big, power a panel so small and give energy to the plant and animal creatures that need it all to live.

While I understand the work I do still holds layers of privilege, I have to lean into the advent hope that doing something is better than doing nothing. I also hope it inspires others and encourages us all to advocate for more from our leaders. More justice, more compassion, more equality and more love. 

More light.

Screenshots provided by the author.

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