Posted by: Rob Stevens, Rector
What leads you deeper into a relationship with God? If the church could ask only one question, perhaps this should be it. The season of Advent could be a gift to us that leads us deeper into our relationships with God and even the world, but it is not a simple gift to receive. Receiving this gift takes intentional preparation.
Advent is an interesting time for Christians, especially liturgically minded ones like Episcopalians. Our faith tradition tells us to slow down and get ready for the coming of the Savior of the world, while our popular culture screams at us to get busy and make sure everything is just right for the biggest consumer event of the year. Never are Christians more at tension with our culture than we are during Advent. Our liturgies are penitential almost Lent-like (note the liturgical color for Lent and Advent is the same, Violet). Yet, everywhere else the party has already started. In fact, I see that the party never really ended from the year before. Our society is unwilling to rest, to fast, to prepare. We simply move from one event to the next without ever reflecting upon life. Advent’s purpose is to enrich the feast that is Christmas. Advent is the fast that precedes the feast.
A week ago many of you probably experienced a feast at Thanksgiving. Have you ever made the mistake of snacking all morning long only to sit down at a marvelously prepared Thanksgiving Day feast with a limited if not non-existent appetite? That is much like our culture’s treatment of the season of Advent. We are so stuffed with food, toys, parties, and activity that by the time Christmas actually arrives we are too tired to celebrate. So, call me a scrooge if you must, but I contend that I am far from a scrooge. I suggest that we just jump the gun a bit and miss out on a tremendous opportunity to prepare for one of the greatest feasts the world has ever and will ever know, Christmas. Christmas is the feast when we celebrate the reality that the love of God erases all boundaries, even those between God and human. This feast takes some preparation and that is the gift of Advent.
So what leads you deeper into your relationship with God? How might you embrace this holy
season of expectation that is Advent? What practices might deepen your experience and celebration of Christmas? Our tradition has many practices or you may come up with your own. Maybe you will light an Advent Wreath at mealtime, or take time to keep an Advent Calendar, or maybe you will limit the number of commitments you make during December. What ever you do remember the purpose is not to get gold stars on your heavenly scorecard, but to lead you deeper into the Grace and Wonder that is a relationship with God.
May you have a blessed Advent.
Faithfully, your rector and friend, Rob