(As posted by me at RevGals)
Advent is coming. I tell you this, not to panic you, but as a quiet invitation.
This time of year can be so busy with planning for Advent and Christmas, for those who work in churches and we who live close to them. Today, I invite you to sit quietly…as Mary sits in the photo above…and consider five things about Advent. They might be images, practices, hymns, anything you like. Just let the thoughts wash over you. Be peaceful with them. Be blessed with them.
1. I am thinking of what my Advent observance might be this year, and I am thinking to rededicate myself to the centering prayer practice I have never really gotten into. I'm taking a Centering Prayer workshop next weekend at the marvelous Life in the Trinity Ministry and hoping that spending that day with Rev. Joe Stabile in intentional consideration of the practice will prepare me for the season.
2. As a child, my favorite part of Advent was the Advent wreath at the dinner table. Because we always, always ate dinner together at the table. In my current life, we don't do that. I have the Advent wreath on the coffee table in the den, and I try to remember to light it when we do eat together there. But I have evening commitments three nights a week. That didn't happen when I was younger. We were home in the evenings. I'm wistful for those times. For sparring with my sister to put out the candles with the snuffer (later, in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, I learned to call that "changing the light.") For reciting with my family, "Our King and Savior draweth nigh," and the response, "O come, let us adore him." Liturgy is "the work of the people" and, though I grew up deeply involved in the life of the church, there was not much liturgical activity, as such, in our home life. So that memory remains very special.
3. I love that the Episcopal church does not decorate for Christmas until after 4th Advent. I get the cultural pressures and the problems with it. I will say that I decorate my home earlier, but that's because if I'm going to spend that kind of effort on decorating I want to enjoy it for a good period of time. (and, hopefully, take it down before April.)
4. I appreciate the waiting. The mindful sense that millions of Christians everywhere are waiting together...striving to stay away from the commercialism of the season, and hold to practicing, preparing the Way, and being ready. There are so many, many personal and family resources, and I can get very bogged down in which one to choose! In addition to rededicating myself to prayer, this year, I'm going with this one, and I'm not going to spend lots of time looking at others.
5. Finally, the image that I always hold of Advent is this: I am a young child (elementary age). In the evenings after dinner, I lie under our family Christmas tree and read by the light of the bulbs, with my book propped up against wrapped gifts. The bulbs are the old fashioned kind, like this:
My Daddy thinks that flashing lights are "tacky," but somewhere in the past, a set of flashing replacement bulbs was bought, and we are by golly using them! So, one or two of the bulbs are flashing, slowly, at different times. I am deeply peaceful in this memory. My childhood had some turmoil, but it is not present to me at this time. I am safe, protected, warm, comfortable, loved, and waiting for Christmas.
I am waiting, Lord Jesus, to wait for you.