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Entering the Advent Heavy Metal Season – Washington Daily News

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Entering the heavy metal season of Advent

Posted at 17:03 Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Written by Chris Adams

Are you a huge Metallica fan like me? No problem. I know you are. They are the greatest rock band of all time! You must have been beyond excited when they released a new song and announced a new world tour this week. It was the best Christmas present I could have received and it wasn’t even Christmas yet!

Metallica is my favorite band of all time. Point. You might think that this is a paradox for a priest. Metal bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Pantera often draw attention to the ugliness of the world. They usually don’t shine as brightly as the pop divas or the Top 40. They don’t sing the praises of beautiful things as often as Pavarotti. Instead, they often illuminate the darkness.

Well, that’s not quite the case. They don’t talk about the darkness to live in it. Stay in it. To stay there, in a place of despair. A big part of the spirit of heavy metal is to name the darkness of the world, to then allow the lights of self-determination and hope to lead the way forward. It’s about allowing the darkness to teach us how to persevere when the light is dim, and even finding beauty in those dark moments when the absence of overwhelming light allows us to slow down, rest, and wait for the right time to soar higher and higher.

Advent is a Christian couple with similarities to the spirit of heavy metal. While the secular joys of Christmas have begun in earnest, in the liturgy on Sundays we hear the words of Scripture that speak of waiting in the darkness and looking for glimmers of hope. We sing songs in minor keys that express the yearning of the human spirit to break free from the bondage of oppression, violence and hunger. The bondage of sin. This season is a cauldron in which all our fears, pain and ignorance, along with our hopes and joys, swirl together and, as we celebrate the first Mass of Christmas, burst forth this morning with the energy of having moved through the darkness more fully into the light.

As much as I love the sights and sounds of a secular Christmas, I really do, I realize that this almost artificial sense of joy can’t last long, and it doesn’t nourish us in the moments when the darkness is brighter than the light. To quote my friend Stephen King again: “If fear cannot be articulated, it cannot be conquered.” We can put aside what scares us and hurts us by ignoring it and pretending. But it will always come back to us. The only way to get past the darkness that threatens to overwhelm is to name it, let it engulf us, and then see that we are stronger on the other side of it. Light can only be found in darkness. This is the lesson of Advent and Christmas.

Chris Adams is the rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.

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