October 19, 2017

5 Ways to Prepare Ye

Already stores urge us to “prepare for the holidays” – as if the whole season depends on us choosing a new color scheme for our Christmas decorations. Right now.

Episcopal sensibilities resist this, of course. We are too busy getting back into the swing of Sunday School, reviving outreach ministries, and conducting annual giving campaigns. Before we know it, the last pot will be scrubbed after the annual community Thanksgiving meal. Dry your hands, sit down, take a breath. Welcome Advent.

Here are five ways to get ready to experience a meaningful Advent.

1) Be intentional about Advent. Give Advent a fighting chance to be part of the mix of your life in December with intentionality. Author Cynthia Bourgeault‘s advice about how to approach Centering Prayer can be applied to Advent, with the urging that it is “important to be as clear as you can be” about how willing you are to give yourself to a practice:

To the extent that your intention is clear and strong, your practice will be also. If your intention gets muddled and consumed, so will your practice. …You are simply asked to attend, to give yourself completely into that deeper, mysterious presence.” (from Chapter 12, The Wisdom Jesus, by Cynthia Bourgeault)

2) Prepare ye. There are wonderful resources for personal, group, congregational and children’s observances of a meaningful Advent. Episcopal Church Publishing, Inc. offers a variety of daily meditation and reflection books for adults, children and families (here). Forward Movement publishes a variety of pamphlets helpful for engaging groups of adults or children in preparing for the coming of Christ (here). Now is a great time to peruse the offerings and order publications so ye are prepared to jump in on December 3, 2017.

3) Make a place. We all know where our Christmas tree stands. Where is your spot for contemplating Jesus’ birth? In the delightful children’s booklet Love Life, Live Advent, found at Church Publishing, authors Paula Gooder and Peter Babington, advise families to “Make a place in your home where you will think about Advent. Make it special by putting your Advent calendar, candle, crib-set or wreath there.”

4) Invite. The wealth of our liturgical year holds value for all seekers of God’s light. Even if your Advent reflections are done solo, you can share your experience with others, just as you might tell them about a good book you are reading. When party guests arrive, mention the beauty that the Advent wreath is adding to the season. The light you are finding will shine brighter when shared with others.

5) Expect. Jesus promises that when we seek God, we will find God. Hold your Advent journey lightly in your hand, joyously experiencing where it may lead. Advent anticipates more than a celebration of what we know already happened 2,000+ years ago. Expect transformation and your own rebirth in the manger of your heart.