Nearly every major culture and religion in the northern hemisphere has some sort of celebration of light this time of the year, as the solstice comes with the longest night of the year, and finally the natural light begins its slow ascension to win back the daylight.
Christianity celebrates this time as Advent, a period of deepening darkness, and also of great hope and expectancy. The hard challenge for us every year is the patience to wait. To remain open and receptive, we need to allow ourselves a time of darkness and emptiness.
There is so VERY much around us trying to fill us and our time with distraction – wish-lists, gatherings of family and friends, gifts, shopping, bright lights, busy-ness…. When what we really need is time to meditate, pray, do good deeds, and gather around the wreath in quiet anticipation of what God has to bring to us.
This time of the year gives us many opportunities to practice patience. The words of these days are “watch” and “wait.” There’s an old saying, “Never ask for patience, unless you want plenty of opportunity to practice it!” Though it sounds like a passive thing – waiting, watching, patience… Patience is actually an active thing. It is leaning into whatever life presents you and learning to be fully present with it. Not about having a preconceived notion of the right action, it is waiting until the right action becomes obvious.
Waiting should be done with purposeful intention and mindfulness. It is about stilling the mind, letting go of thoughts or emotions as they arise, tuning into the present moment. Try moments where you meditate, focusing on your breathing, or relaxing muscles in your body, or focusing on the taste of food, bringing your attention back to what is happening around you at the moment. Any kind of meditative practice is about letting go of the random thoughts that arise – or anything that will distract you from the present and what God is trying to say to you.
The quiet and watchful ways of celebrating the season’s blessings are being supported by your church in the following opportunities:
- Each Sunday in Advent: Lighting the advent wreath, sharing moments of grace in carol and song.
- December 1 – “Deck the Halls Service” – where we seek understanding of the symbolism of the season, listening to good music, enjoying beauty, with a first sampling of the carols of the season.
- December 8 – Advent Communion Sunday, Come Lord Jesus, watch, wait, pray, commune with the people of God…
- December 22 – A “Spontaneous Pageant,” 11:00 am worship – for all the church, meaning that everyone can be in costume, and quietly gather at the manger. (Come a few minutes early to choose a costume!)
- December 24 – Christmas Eve Candlelight, 7:30 pm, Bell choir and vocal choir bring beautiful music, candlelighting and silent night…
- December 29 – Wesleyan Covenant Service, 11:00 – This service is about renewing for another year our covenant to be the humble “good news’ people of God.
Enjoy the moments that bring the most meaning to our season of light, Advent. Watch, wait, be patient, be mindful of the blessings that surround you.
Come, our Savior, Jesus the Christ!
– Pastor Karla