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Hallo again to all.

Our social media echo-chambers have been full in recent weeks of what one might expect given the composition of the AO staff: ongoing dismay about the US election; posts supporting the water protectors at Standing Rock; laments over the humanitarian crises at Aleppo, Flint, Calais, Lampedusa, Nauru; and an argument about whether blue or purple is the appropriate liturgical colour for Advent.

Which of these things is not like the other?

The quirky debate about Sarum Blue versus Roman Purple (itself omitting Pleshey Red and Westminster White) is a distraction grenade for sincere Anglicans who want to observe Advent carefully. It pivots on whether Advent is a time of hope or penitence, whether the Church in England kept Advent differently to continental Europe before the Reforms, and whether one's parish can afford an additional colour of paraments and vestments, the liturgical antiquarianism of one's friends, and how much minutiae we can tolerate in our news feed—among other things.

As is natural for Anglican digital conversation, the positions are as hard at the beginning of a conversation as they will become at the end of them. The vitriol comes out early and often. The caricatures reinforce themselves through silliness, lost friendships, the hobbling of common affection and mission. If you've spent time on Facebook in the last decade, or in the blogosphere within the last two decades, you'll understand what we mean.

Thankfully, the problem contains its own solution. The church communities arguing about the meaning and practice of Advent are trying in a feeble, feeble way to begin to declare the coming of the Lord to Standing Rock and Aleppo, Flint and Lampedusa. We're just not always very good at it.

Advent in whatever colour and whatever register is our annual reorientation to the Crib: to the weak, the cold, the margin, the poor, the exile, the pregnant woman, the perplexed father, the traveling strangers possessed of uncommon wisdom, the angels singing in the dark and silent sky. Advent invites us to remember our own first weakness and reliance on the strength of parents, the welcome of our families when we were infants, the provision in our social circles for a stable arrival of a child. In the awareness of these things, it invites us to extend them in the name of the Christchild to others on his behalf.

It is good for us to argue about what Advent means and how to keep it. It means our hearts are in the best place they can be, if we order them aright: attentive, caring, waiting, watching, thinking, hoping, open, gentle, strong. Whatever the colour we see each week in church, we pray our minds will be true to the invitations of the season and its successors.

See you next week.

Our Signatures

Richard Mammana

All of us at Anglicans Online

27 November 2016

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