Advent, in so many ways, is a strange and countercultural concept. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is probably the busiest of the entire year. Our calendars are filled with both enjoyable and challenging events – parties, family, friends, meals, travel, presents, sorrow, depression, memories, reconnecting, year-end deadlines, semester exams, anxiety, high expectations, disappointments, deep emotions, faith commitments, relational responsibilities, practical worries, hope and joy for the future, celebrations of life… the list goes on and on. It’s exhausting.
In our culture, the month before Christmas is fast and active, but the Church calls us to slow down and wait during the season of Advent. What a concept! Waiting may be just as important as acting. Of course, we will always spend a much greater portion of our day doing things, but waiting is also a critical part of our lives – waiting for clarity, waiting for the right moment, waiting for a response, waiting for inspiration, waiting for someone.
Wow, this has been a really, really challenging week! 😕 The readings and lessons and sermon this Sunday challenged us as well – challenged us “never to grow weary of doing good,” challenged us to endure even in the face of hatred and turmoil, challenged us to live out our baptismal covenant. There are lots of summaries and videos from this Sunday posted on our website – if you have a minute, please head there and reflect on the great power of God’s love and Christ’s work in the world! ✝️ (📲saintjameswarrenton.org/news) #episcopal #episcopalchurch #episcopalian #hope #christian #thegospel
The Church is also clear that deep, contemplative prayer requires the ability and commitment to wait, to be still, to let our mind noise float away, to wait on God in silence and openness. In order to listen to God at a deep level, which every human is hard-wired to do, we need to wait on God in silence and openness.
This Advent at Saint James’, we are inviting and encouraging every adult parishioner to spend time exploring the benefits of constructive waiting, waiting on God. Here’s what we suggest:
- Get your Advent book at church. It’s free for all households who commit to the process. What Are You Waiting For? is an excellent book of daily Advent meditations written by the Rev. Christine McSpadden and published by Forward Movement.
- Set aside 5-10 minutes each day to learn more about healthy ways of waiting, especially waiting on God.
- Read the daily meditation and let it sink in.
- Sit and wait in silence and openness.
- Share your experience with a group of parishioners at the following times:
Sunday, 9:00, Café,Sunday, 9:30, Reception Room
Sunday, 11:45, Reception Room
Tuesday, 10:30, Reception Room
Thursday, 8:00am, Reception Room
You could also gather at anytime during the week with a group that you form.
- If you don’t get a free book at church, you can purchase one from Forward Movement.
🙏🏼Collect for St Clement of Alexandria in this second week of Advent 🕯🕯”O God of unsearchable wisdom, you gave your servant Clement grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, the source of all truth: Grant to your Church the same grace to discern your Word wherever truth is found; through Jesus Christ our unfailing light, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” #bookofcommonprayer #stclement #advent #episcopalchurch #episcopal #episcopalian #prayer
Spending the month before Christmas learning about waiting may sound strange in our culture, but it is a perfect fit with the story of our faith. Mary waited for Jesus to be born. We wait for Christ to come again. We wait to hear God’s voice. We wait to discern God’s call. It is our waiting on God that keeps us focused on God’s will instead of our own agenda. It is what faithful people do. It is what we all can do, if only we make that choice.
For our entire parish to be learning and talking about waiting makes this not merely an individual endeavor; it becomes a community experience. The more the Advent theme of waiting is shared among us all, the more it becomes a communal norm. When waiting on God is a standard practice and step in all our decisions and discernments, who knows what God might give birth to at Saint James’!