A frantic pace often tends to take over at this time of year. The holiday gatherings, the travel, the baking, the shopping, the gift-wrapping—the month of December has no shortage of traditions and get-togethers to keep many of us busy. We take a deep breath sometime before Thanksgiving, and we may not come up for air until the Christmas decorations are put away for another year.
That’s how it is for many of us—and yet, the church year wants us to move at a different pace in these weeks leading up to Christmas. The Gospel of Mark begins with the words of the prophet Isaiah and this “voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord.’”
Advent is a time for slowing down. It’s not a time for frantic, check-everything-off-the-list preparations, but for careful, deliberate attention to God’s presence. The miracle we celebrate at Christmas is none other than God’s journey to earth, God’s coming to us in the form of a fragile, helpless child. It’s a gift worth preparing our hearts to receive again each year.
You’ll sense the change of pace in worship. The service is a bit quieter, a bit more reflective, a bit slower. The readings are calls to examine our lives and our world as we prepare for the gift of Christmas. We’ll also be gathering for evening prayer each Wednesday throughout Advent to wait upon God’s presence together.
You can change the pace of your own life a bit as well. Even a small change can make a great difference. Maybe this is a season to deliberately start and end each day with prayer. Maybe it’s a season to work through a brief devotional book; we have some at church if you’d like one. Maybe you can light an Advent wreath each day and pray for God’s light to shine anew in your life and in the world.
There is perhaps no time in the year when the pace of the church’s life and our culture are so at odds as during Advent. So this year as the Black Friday sales rage and the commercials get louder and you find yourself pulled in too many directions, remember the prophet’s call to prepare the way of the Lord, and try allowing the season of Advent to bring you along at a different pace.
Peace to you,