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Getting An Early Start

Getting an Early Start
The Worship and Music Committee agreed to begin Advent a week early this year. There are two reasons we made this decision, the practical one: the decorations could be left up from the Christmas bazaar, and the spiritual one: we might actually have a chance to notice Advent before Christmas began encroaching on it. For years, one of my colleagues
has started Advent two weeks early and she commended the practice. What is Advent for anyway? While for us, it’s
come to mean (if it means anything at all) getting ready for Christmas, for Christians of an earlier time, Advent was about getting ready for the second coming of Christ. For most of us, that concept is not foundational to our theology. Nevertheless, we would benefit by separating Advent from Christmas and using that space to think about getting ready, spiritually. What would that look like? Here’s an invitation: in the next month take one day to get ready spiritually. Shut off your phone, TV, and electronic devices; put aside your work, the shopping, and household chores; and be still and quiet. If home is a hard place to find that, try finding a quiet corner in a library, or at a friend’s when everyone’s out. If you can’t manage or imagine a whole day, take two half days, or even a couple of hours per week for a month. Go for a meditative
walk in the snow. Write a poem (no one else has to see it). Try drawing a mandala. Read a poem, such as the ones we’re using during Advent and write your reflections on it, or on a short passage from the early chapters of one of the gospels. Or just sit and listen to your spirit and God’s Spirit in conversation. Most of us are pretty adept at keeping busy. It’s much harder to be in quiet. We learned that was wasting time. It’s not. We need the stillness to connect with our deeper selves,
with God, and to hear the voice that says, “You are my child, my beloved. With you I am well pleased.” Time to slow down and step back gives us a chance to recalibrate our spirits. Try it and see what you discover.
May the riches of Advent be yours,