The gift of Advent
Dear people of St. Catherine’s,
The liturgical season of Advent is one of the great gifts of our Episcopal/Anglican tradition. Nearly everyone feels much too busy this time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It can also be a very difficult time for those who are experiencing the season without a loved one for the first time, or anyone who finds themselves in mourning. The culture around us jumped from Halloween right into Christmas decorations, carols, and gift suggestions. The culture suggests that we are to be “happy” all the time, leaving no room for those who are grieving a loss.
The Church, in its wisdom, offers us something different and deeper between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That something is Advent.
Advent is normally about four weeks long, including four Sundays, just prior to Christmas. During Advent we do not sing Christmas carols – that would be jumping ahead. We do sing the beautiful hymn “O Come O Come Emmanuel”, and light the Advent wreath each Sunday at the beginning of the liturgy – first one candle, then two, then three, then all, to count down the weeks.
In Advent we are called to “being” more than “doing”. Advent gives us space and time to wait and watch. Advent calls us to times of silence and introspection. Advent invites us into a process. Advent invites us to recognize our deep longing for God, our deep longing for peace in the world, and reconciliation between people. Advent gives room for those who are sorrowful to mourn, and those who are joyful to rejoice – or for us to do both at the same time – rejoicing in a minor key.
I invite you to take on one daily spiritual practice this Advent. Some suggestions are:
Observe 5 minutes of silence, once or more during each day. Simply practice “being” in God’s presence.
Do Morning or Evening Prayer, or Compline, most days in Advent. You are welcome to join us in the Chapel, Monday through Thursday, at 5:30 p.m. for Evening Prayer, or do it at your home or work.
When you feel stressed, slow down and just observe your breathing for a minute or two.
Do the necessary tasks of the season in an intentional, prayerful way. Writing cards can be prayerful. Making cookies can be prayerful. Choosing gifts can be done with a prayer for each person. Slow down and be really present with your family, your co-workers, your friends.
I invite you to try one of these, or something else that seems good to you, and pay attention to how this practice may change your experience of Advent.
Then, when Christmas finally comes, you can be prepared to celebrate the holy season with great joy.
Wishing you all a very blessed Advent and Christmas season!
THE HOLY EUCHARIST
Sunday 8:00 A.M. Rite I
HOLY EUCHARIST RITE II
Sunday 10:00 A.M.
CONTEMPLATIVE SUNG EVENING PRAYER
Second Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m.