Advent is a season full of signs and symbols whether it is the Advent candles, or the signs of watchful expectation that Jesus calls us to in the scripture readings. There are also many other signs that I have seen as someone who is learning German and is at times dependent on info-graphics for getting around. Most of the familiar signs are the “EXIT” signs that show a person running through a doorway. These picture signs are frequently seen on the British Columbia Ferries that anyone from Vancouver Island knows well. The new vessels were actually built in Germany so they have many of the same signs.
Not only are there exit signs, but there seems to be a sign for just about everything. Many of the written signs that I see end with stern punctuation (!!) alerting those not to park in this spot, or walk through this private roadway. It is not always easy to figure out what is being asked in the signs so I bring out my dictionary to help me translate.
One of the more entertaining areas for signs is near my new home in the Kur Park of Bad Krozingen. A natural setting with health activities and health services being located all around. There is a nice area with garden sculptures, peacocks shaped out of a variety of bright flowers. Dogs on leash, pick up after your dog, don’t walk on the grass, don’t walk through the flower beds, don’t feed the birds, Watch your step, and don’t sit on the fence. All these signs are visible from one point in the walk. Oh, and don’t litter. At times it seems a bit overwhelming, and at others, it seems a bit absurd to have so many directions.
What about the call of John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord? Make his path straight, bring the mountains low and fill the valleys so they are flat. At times the signs, although clear, can be confusing.
I am particularly mindful of the special Nine Lessons and Carols service that we will be holding at the Anglican Church. How much effort has been made in preparations for music, singing, readings and readers. It is a worship service that attracts a lot of people who don’t normally come to church. There have been loads of advertisements, and personal invitations. Will we make the signs clear to those whom we welcome? Will we, with all our preparations, not forget the simple message that people long to hear? That Christ is coming this Christmas season.
The age old readings form a tradition that climaxes with the pointing of the coming of the child Jesus, God’s Son. I know that in welcoming those to our church that we will not overwhelm them with a mixture of signs, rather we will welcome them in to hear the simple message of God’s word, and promise of salvation. Gratefully, the church is clearly marked for finding the front door, the elevator, the sanctuary and the washrooms. We are so blessed with those who also ‘show the way’ with their words and actions. Gratefully, the church is not full of confusing messages telling us in pictures that there shall be no parking, no skateboarding, no walking on the grass, and no fence sitting. (Thank goodness, as I would not feel so welcome, myself).
I am most grateful for those who have prepared, and those who will enter to hear the simple signs of God’s promised Son.