Advent is upon us, and with the season, the problematic language that talks about light overcoming darkness. Those of us who grew up with this language might not understand why it's problematic. Those of us who have worked with language know that language matters, and this language has an impact on how we treat people with darker skin colors. Even those of us who have worked with language can be in a bit of denial.
We might be in denial about the impact of theological language on modern race relations, but language shapes us, and the theological language of light and darkness is hard to escape during the holiday season, even if we swear we're secular creatures:
I've been wondering what would happen if we rewrote some of that scripture to get rid of light and dark dichotomies. I tried writing it in haiku, just to see if that changed the reaction to it:
Those of us who use Advent wreaths to help us be more mindful during the season before Christmas may wonder how to avoid these pitfalls. One of my Create in Me pastor friends, Naomi Sease Carriker, has created a wonderful idea. It's a reverse Advent wreath, where all the candles are lit week 1, and each week, one fewer candle stays lit from the week before.
She's even in the process of writing a liturgy. Here's what she's written for week 1: