When our kids were a little younger we read the children’s book Who Is Coming to Our House?The book involves the farm animals of the stable in which Jesus was born working to prepare their home for him. “Make room,” they say to one another, and eagerly set to their work. I think of that book at this time of year, as a gentle and lovely reminder that there is work to be done in my own life to make room for Jesus as Lord and soon-coming king.
This Sunday marks the beginning of a new church year and a new season. From Dec. 3-24 of this year, we will be in the season of “Advent” — a season of preparation and anticipation, leading into Christmas and shaping us in the hope of Christ’s coming.
In the midst of all of our culturally normal preparations for this Christmas season, I encourage you also to engage in the Advent season and its forming of our hopes and expectations. A few ideas of how you might do this:
- Pick something up to read. There are all manner of resources to help guide you through the season of Advent. Some folks at COTC put together a variety of resources here. Watch for the Light is a classic Advent devotional and I know several people who are using Light Upon Light as a fresh resource. COTC’s very own Tsh Oxenreider has produced this devotional, guiding readers through Gospel readings, the prayer of examen and songs related to Advent. Tsh is also helping to put together a resource for us at COTC, consisting of the Gospel reading for each day of Advent and short reflection and prompt. It will be going out via social media, and you can sign up hereto receive it daily (Monday to Saturday) in your email inbox.
- Deliberately disengage. With so much busyness and consumption, it can seem like a cruel joke that the lead up to Christmas can deliberately work against our formation as people of hope in Christ. Like Lent, Advent is seen as a penitential season. You might consider engaging in some type of fast, or deliberate periods of silence and solitude. Our Parish Quiet Day on Dec. 16 is a great way to engage corporately.
- Press into practices of hope. This Advent, you might also considering engaging some kind of active practice related to Advent preparation. Set out an Advent wreath in your home and follow along with the progression of the season. You might try praying the Daily Office, or setting out some pattern of prayer to follow for these specific weeks. Actions of generosity and sacrificial service are a great way to proclaim that our hope is not of this world; if you’re interested in finding some places or ways to do this shoot Paul or myself an email.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg and you may already have your own traditions or practices related to the work of this season. In whatever way you prepare, may you be built up in joyful hope and holy anticipation, readied to welcome Christ as Lord more fully, and to celebrate for 12 wonderful days beginning on the 25th.
Making room with you,