**This Advent, I will be writing a five-part blog series on Advent and today’s blog is the first, which gives an introduction to the season of Advent.
So what is this Advent deal all about? Are you currently observing it? If so, how?
As we journey together and commit ourselves to reflective practices during this sacred season, know that I am praying for you and learning with you! It is an honor to do this together.
Let me suggest that, as you read this post, you open up the instrumental version of “O Come, O Come Immanuel” and listen to this Advent song while reading this post.
Advent begins four Sundays before 25 December each year, and for us liturgical types, it begins the church year, hence the name Advent, which means “beginning” or “coming.” In Advent, we wait with longing for the arrival of the Christ child on 25 December. We know that this expected day is coming, but it has not yet arrived. We wait and we are nourished with the hope of what is to come, but is not here yet.
I’m fascinated with the idea of Advent because I have only been celebrating it for three years; this year I am taking time to feel everything that this time has to give. It’s almost a misnomer to say “celebrate” Advent because what I have found thus far is a sad season… one of longing and expectation for the day that is Christ’s birth. It’s a season that does not leave room for cheery Christmas carols or green- red sugar cookies. I’m finding that it’s requiring me to slow down, to stop… stop consuming, stop talking, stop worrying, stop making idols, stop running around… a time to stop.
In our fast-paced, minute-to-win-it culture, the idea of longing for something can be a bit foreign. Everything’s got to happen now. Pronto!… as it should have been completed ten minutes ago. We don’t long for things nearly as much because, well, we can have them right now. We speed up relationships. We speed up acquiring possessions. We speed up worship services. We speed up conversations. I think we’ve forgotten what it means to yearn… to long…. to ache for something deep within. Something that is surely coming but is not here yet.
It’s odd to have to actually plan to slow down, to set a date on the calendar in which you block out time to stop and turn off the gizmos and gadgets. To be quiet. To just be. Without this time, we, as creatures of busyness, become unsettled. Where is the space to meditate, to reflect, to pray? Where is a contemplative time which is required for us to arrive at thoughts that will be necessary for our future?
If no other time of the year, Advent is a time for this. To sweep away the busyness and commercialization of Christmas from our days. To reflect and remember who I am… what is my ethos? What is my purpose here on earth? What have I done with this year? Am I doing that which makes me come alive and working to create space for others to do the same?
Advent is a time to long for what we don’t yet have. To expect. To be caught in the parenthesis of the past and what is surely to come.
The day is coming when we will celebrate, but it is not this day.
This day we long for what is to come. And when it comes, we know it will come with intentionality and significance.
Sometimes at the Communion table on the first day of Advent, before serving the bread and wine, pastors will pray that this bread would sustain the congregation through this time of longing and stillness.
I pray that you too would be sustained during this time of longing. That you would be sustained with the bread of contemplation and reflection. And if this is a sad time for you, let it be. Embrace the pain and make it a part of you.
We will celebrate soon. But for now, we long.
Magnificent. In such times of stillness, a world of perception opens up–subtle messages which our senses and mind can only process when they are not drowned out by the noise and light of the world. This is one reason I treasure a truly good snowfall this time of year. There is no crisp and holy silence like that of a deep and undisturbed blanket of snow.