By J. Kathryn Costas
Advent is the beginning of a new church year. You will see the green color disappear and be replaced with “advent blue”, we will be lighting a new candle each week on the advent wreath, the beginning sentences of our worship change, and we will begin our readings from year B of the Revised Common Lectionary.
I always look forward to this season of Advent. I ponder how I can make this “season of waiting and preparation” a holy time for myself. I plan on adding into my day way too many advent readings, I would like many hours of silent meditation and prayer, and also a couple of retreat days each week. I want to really prepare in order to fully focus on the joy that Christmas brings. Then reality sets in and I remind myself, I am not living in a monastery but in the world and I reconsider my Advent practices.
What are your advent practices? Do you strive to do way more than time permits? Some people choose an advent devotional to read daily, others light an advent candle, some fast a day a week, others open an advent calendar, and some choose to do things for others. Perhaps the best use of our time is to be. Be present to God and listen as God makes Godself known to us.
Joan Chittister reminds us that this is a season of waiting, where we learn “the joy of anticipation, the joy of delighting in the sense of the presence of God all around us, and the joy of looking for the second coming of Christ, the joy of living in the surety of even more life in the future.” (The Liturgical Year, 2009) She calls us to develop an “Advent Heart” as we enter into the days of this season of waiting and watching. Advent is about remembering the birth of Jesus, it is about seeing God among us in our daily lives, in what we read, in the Eucharist, in our work, our families and our community, and it is about the final coming as the full reign of God.
Transition is another season of waiting. It is a time of measuring ourselves as a church, a time to see who we are and if we measure up to who we say we are. Others gift us with questions that we need to ponder…..Is Jesus evident in who we are? Can we feel the presence of the Holy Spirit among us? Do we treat one another as Christ? Are we willing to let the Spirit come among us and stir up its power within Grace Church?
This Advent Journey is not only about waiting in hope and anticipating, it is about engaging with the God that is present in our midst and moving toward the future. May we be alert and present to the places where opportunity for mission and ministry present themselves. May God’s abundant grace fill us with all we need during this Advent time.