Friday, December 04, 2009

First Sunday In Advent (retroactively)

This past Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent. We've been so busy lately with various things that we kind of missed it, and didn't start lighting our Advent Candle until yesterday. That said, I've done some reading about Advent lately (in the book I recommended a couple of days ago--A Circle of Seasons). Ireton explains that each of the four Sundays in Advent has a watchword with a Biblical context associated therewith (p. 21). The word for the first Sunday is wait. How are we waiting and preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ? How are we awaiting and preparing for His second coming? These are the questions Ireton asks. She suggests doing something active in our Advent waiting. In Lent, when we wait the Lord's return, we often "give something up." She suggests that we also fast in some way during Advent to consciously choose to await Christ's birth. How will we spend the month of December? Overwhelmed by the many many activities and the food and the consumerism? Or can we somehow stop and ponder how we are preparing ourselves to celebrate the arrival of the One who saved the world? Somehow this month I want to prepare and anticipate. It's hard not to get caught up in the excitement--but often materialistic--activity of December. But today, for better or for worse, we were forced to stop. The sudden arrival of a winter storm slowed us down. It was beautiful but also caused an unfortunate change in our weekend plans. It would be easy to feel like we are waiting, just inside our front door, for the storm to end and we can DO again. But, Ireton quotes Henri Nouwen with a very thought-provoking idea: "Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present in it. A waiting person is someone who is present in the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment" (p. 23). How can I be present in the moment and actively anticipate Christ's arrival--at this Christmas but also for all of my days?

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