Tomorrow begins Advent in the Church’s calendar. We start anew, marching toward the Light of God. Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Light of the World. It is a time of expectation and of waiting. The Church must be half mad really. In a culture that pays highest respect to expediency, and immediate gratification, the Church sets aside a season dedicated to patience, prayer, and expectancy. While every sight and sound around us is declaring, in the loudest possible way, that Christmas has arrived, Advent stand up and says, “Hold on! Wait! Listen! Watch!” This is not a culture that much appreciates the words “Please be patient – I’ll be with you shortly!” Two minutes too long in a Starbucks line is enough to cause petulant rage between customer and his Barista – especially this time of year. It is in this realm that the Church says, let’s be patient and wait. “Wait for the Lord, whose day is near.” As a church we must be half-mad…right?
But then again the One that we follow, the One for whom we wait, was no stranger to being counter-cultural was he? Is it possible that we need reminding to stop, to step back, to be still and to listen? Is it possible that without these times of reflection and discernment we might forget about what living the Incarnation of Jesus looks like? We all, from time to time, need to prayerfully consider how we can give birth to the real and living presence of Jesus in this world . Advent gives us pause to reflect on how we might welcome the Light into our world. The Most Rev’d Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Unites States put it this way in her latest Advent message;
Advent is a quieter time of the year in the Church’s understanding. It’s a time to be still and listen, listen deep within to what is growing, ready to emerge into new life.
And as the season for the birth of the Christ Child arrives, I would encourage you to consider how you yourself will be present in the world in a new way this year. How will you give evidence of love incarnate to the world around you?
‘What is growing, and ready to emerge into new life?’ God is at work in you and in me. God is growing light and life. We must consider what God is about to birth in us. This is hard for us to accept at times. All of the commotion and cultural hoopla that we are immersed in, clouds our vision. We are at the same time deafened to the voice that tells us how beloved we are, by the raucous canticle of consumption. We need time to step away from Black Fridays, Christmas office parties, midnight madness, end of term papers, end of year deadlines, and the expectations of many to look, to listen, and to wait. Wait for the birth of something new.
Take time this Advent to step back, to sit still and to listen to what is about to emerge in your life. If you are looking for a place to do just that, join us at St. Aidan’s Church on Wednesday evenings at 8 pm for Advent Vespers. Each week allows time for scripture reading, prayer, meditation, and song all designed to give us time to take pause. As an added bonus, there will be no preaching!
I hope you can join us. It will give us all an opportunity, as we bring in Christmas, to ask ‘how we will give evidence of love incarnate to the world around us?’ Something great is about to emerge – God is at work – come listen with us as we wait for the Lord.