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November 28, 2013, 11:23 AM

Advent, A Season of Faith Practice

“Let all mortal flesh keep silence/ And with fear and trembling stand/ Ponder nothing earthly minded/ For with blessing in His hand/ Christ our God to earth descendeth/ Our full homage to demand.” 
(traditional French carol)

This year, we have been focusing on a single faith practice each month.  September was “Keeping Sabbath;” October was “Living Stewardship;” and November was “Hospitality.”  When asked about the faith practice for December, I have been explaining that we won’t be focusing on one particular faith practice during Advent.  And then I realized that observing Advent is itself a faith practice.  Faithful Advent observance involves many of the other faith practices that we have been exploring.  The Christian season of Advent bears little resemblance to the overloaded, pressure cooker, non-stop cocktail party-Nutcracker-Messiah-Salvation-Army bell- ringing-mall-Santa- photo-op-barking-dogs-jingle-bells-retail-extravaganza that America calls the “Christmas Season.”  In fact, it couldn’t be much farther from it.  The words to the traditional French carol above, about keeping silent and waiting describes Advent observance.

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Kingdom of God, not the coming of Santa.  It is intended to be a time when we ask ourselves: “If Jesus were to really return this year, would we greet him with joy and wonder like the shepherds did, or would we send assassins like Herod did?”  Advent is an introspective time; a time for assessing our progress on life’s journey; and a time to reorder our priorities for the coming year.  It is a time to slow down rather than speed up. 

The Christmas “season” is actually celebrated in the Christian calendar for twelve days: from Christmas through Epiphany.  During the Christmas season, I love listening to WJMJ radio.  They play Christmas carols for twelve days straight. 

I know that it would be unrealistic of me to suggest that any of us attempt to pull the plug on all the social obligations and special events of this time of year.  But in the interest of promoting Advent observance; the church will be offering a number of different opportunities for moments of Advent silence this month – for peace and pondering in the midst of the clamor: 

Each Sunday during Advent, starting on December 1st, our new organist, Pat, will be offering fifteen minutes of meditative music before worship for quiet reflection.  

Anne-Marie and I will be continuing the Grace Fellowship group meditation and discussion on Mondays at 7:00pm.  All are welcome to come experience some guided and silent meditations.

We are offering a Wednesday morning Bible Study on Handel’s Messiah- learning about the Old Testament prophetic texts and Handel’s musical settings.  The four-session study will begin the day before Thanksgiving and continue through the Wednesday before Christmas.  We will meet at 10:30 am and all are welcome.  There are books available for purchase or loan.

In cooperation with our New Beginnings ministry, Anne-Marie and I will be leading a special “Christmas Service of Comfort and Peace” on Sunday evening, December 22nd, for anyone struggling to find joy and peace this season.  It will be a quieter, candlelight service, followed by refreshments in the Parish House.

I hope you can set aside some “Sabbath” time in this busy season to experience the refreshment and renewal of the Advent season.  Join us.  Grace and Peace to all.

~ Pastor Cheryl

This article, along with other information about upcoming events and member information can be found in our December 2013 Judea Journal.  Click to read or download.

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