Advent is a season that often gets lost in the buildup to Christmas. For many of us, Advent is simply pre-Christmas. Pre-Christmas entails buying gifts, juggling parties, meal planning and cooking, and generally running around at break-neck speed.
Unlike pre-Christmas, Advent invites us into a completely different posture. Advent invites us into a quiet expectation. We know that something incredible is coming – the birth of the Christ Child. And we hold our breaths in anticipation, waiting to marvel at the miracle of Jesus’ birth. Advent is the Church’s gift to us – a time for contemplation and prayer.
The funny thing about Advent is that the Church usually forgets to slow down too. Like everyone else, we schedule Quiet Days, parties, and learning. We squeeze in meetings before the end of the year, and we rush to keep up with the liturgies. But this year, something is a little different at St. Margaret’s. Because of the Hurricane, many things that were planned were either canceled or delayed. Therefore we do not have a Quiet Day, there is no Diocesan Convention, and there are fewer meetings. However, what is left seems right: an Annual Meeting to review what has been an incredible year; a Movies with Margaret night that is light enough for us to learn and share easily; a Christmas party for us to gather in fellowship with the entire community; and some incredible liturgies, including Advent Lessons and Carols, our Cemetery Memorial service (a wonderful gift for those who find the Christmas holidays difficult), and two very different Christmas Eve services.
Given that St. Margaret’s has enabled us all to slow down a little bit, I invite us all to treat Advent like a spiritual discipline. Come to Church every Sunday in Advent. Find a devotional to direct your time daily (see resources below). Carve out some time to just come to the Church and sit quietly with God. Our intentional observance of Advent is a gift that we can give to ourselves this year and that we can share with a friend or neighbor. During what can be a noisy season, Advent at St. Margaret’s might just become the best gift you give to someone else this year.
Resources for Advent
1) Advent Calendar/Devotional: Fling Wide the Doors
2) Book: Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent, by Enuma Okoro
3) Other Diocesan Suggestions: Mercer School