A new church year begins on Sunday, December 2 as we celebrate with joy the first Sunday of Advent.
For Christians, the Advent season is meant to be a time of contemplative waiting; a time of spiritual preparation in the quiet darkness as we anticipate the light of Christ. But we all know how easy it is to get swept up in the chaotic tide of Christmas preparation and find ourselves trying to squeeze our reflection time into what, if any, remains of the day.
Perhaps this year we can trying tithing our time during Advent - giving to God the "first fruits" of the hours we have been given. If we can give to God even the first 15 or 20 minutes of our day, or schedule a mid-morning coffee break with our soul, perhaps we won't fall asleep that night rueing that (once again!) we have forgotten to nourish our spiritual life amidst the clamour.
Spending that time in quiet, with no other thought than to get out of the way and let God do God's work upon you, may be the simple practice you need at this time of year. But if you would like some structure and inspiration in your Advent reflections, there are a number of choices to consider.
This diocese is recommending Living on the Edge, written by Adele Finney who was for many years the executive director of the PWRDF. Available through a downloadable booklet or daily email at this link, the series is described thusly:
How do we find our way when one thing is ending and another thing is beginning? In the great joys and sorrows of our lives, and in the economic, political and climatic changes of our world, how do we live in the in-between? Maybe you’re wondering what’s next for you in life and what God is calling you to do. How do you look and listen for God’s leading when you’re not sure what is ahead? This in-between place can be a place full of challenge and also surprising new life. This Advent, explore the edges of life through images of edge habitat, birth, and the places where we encounter our neighbour.
The PWRDF (Primate's World Relief and Development Fund) is offering an Advent series called Empowering Women, which connects stories of the courageous women of the bible with women in PWRDF programs. More information is available here.
For those people who enjoy a different kind of practice, the Virginia Theological Seminary offers a global advent calendar called "Praying the Word." People are invited to contemplate a different word (beginning with "journey," on December 2) and share some of their thoughts via photo or words. Click here for more information on this popular creative endeavour.
The short video at this link is a lovely reminder of the gifts of Advent. May this season be for you a place of peace and beauty as we welcome the beginning of another year in Christ.