My two year old daughter may be more excited about Advent than anyone in our house. Mostly, she is fascinated with all the lights, not the least of which are the candles on our family advent wreathe. “Light all of them” she says each evening as we ask the question, “Who will show us the way?” Week by week we light another candle.
I think every congregation has their own folklore about what each candle represents. In ours we talk about how the prophets will show us the way, and they are who we remember when we light the first candle. The second one stands for the holy family. The third is for the shepherds.
During this advent season of waiting and delaying our gratification in more than one way, I want to give thanks in a belated way for a shepherd and saint in the PC(USA), William C. Placher, who died on the first Sunday of Advent, November 30th A theological educator recognized by the with its’ highest award in 2002, Placher taught for over thirty years at Wabash College in Indiana.
Among his numerous accomplishments as a scholar, author, and Presbyterian Elder was his capacity to mentor others. Testimonies to this can be read and heard as people responded to his untimely death. Bill was a teacher of teachers. For many years he chaired the Advisory Committee of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. Thousands of theological educators have benefited from the ministry and mission of the Wabash Center, a one-of-a-kind place of renewal and nurturing of excellence for theological educators. The fellowships, workshops, colloquies, and consulting of the Wabash Center have come to be essential for the growth of those who are teaching in our seminaries.
I invite you to join me in advent gratitude for Bill Placher, delayed though it may be! And join me in giving thanks for a theological educator you know and appreciate… an author or pastor or professor. So light a candle now, if you wait it may be too late.