Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Advent Challenge

We begin a new season Sunday, as well as a new year. The Church calendar begins with the first Sunday in Advent. It is important to remember that Advent is not “pre-Christmas”, but is a season in its own right. It is a season of reflection, preparation, and longing for the coming Savior. The first two weeks focus on the second coming of Christ, while the last two weeks focus on the incarnation.

The secular Christmas season is already in full swing. Buying things we cannot afford, asking for things we do not need, eating things we are not supposed to be eating, the same secular Christmas music being repeated ad nauseum... is this why we fall in a heap on December 26th, utterly sick of Christmas? Must we follow along like cattle to slaughter?

Or can we celebrate Advent until the evening of December 24th, making sure to savor Advent in all its contemplative glory, saving Christmas for the actual Christmas season? Is it possible to use Advent as a time of preparation and anticipation for the coming of Christ? Could it be the church Fathers were right after all, that maybe getting into Christmas too early ruins the experience and all the joy?

Let’s keep Advent this year. Let’s not allow the secular Christmas to sneak into church. Let’s take time to slow down the hectic pace and focus on Christ, who has come, and who will come, and who comes now. Let’s prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming – both at the Day of the Lord and as an infant, holy and innocent.

Take some time to ask God how you can keep Advent. You may find the following prayer helpful:

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have given us this time every year that we might anticipate and prepare for the coming of Christ: Grant us grace that we might not follow the rest of the world, but that we might set ourselves apart to follow and serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Resurrection and Advent

Today is the fortieth day since I last posted anything. There has been so much going on. I went to Catalyst and learned so much... Be Present! I've managed a house build for the first time in my life. It has been a tremendous experience; very frustrating but very rewarding. To be honest, during most of the build I was reprinting last year's prayer guides instead of writing new ones. It was easier that way.

Today is the beginning of the transition between Ordinary Time and Christ the King and Advent. Christ the King is one of my favorite Sundays of the year, and yesterday was no exception.

I want to write more. I want to finish my liturgy series I was writing about the Christian year. I want to write about some of the things I learned at Catalyst. I want to write so much. I find I have little time. Maybe I just need to reorganize it all, refocus. Be present, in other words.

Advent seems like a good time to begin all this. Advent is a time of new beginning, of anticipation, of preparation. And for this blog, Advent will be a time of resurrection.

I hope I haven't completely lost your interest. I hope we can get back into the swing of things. I'm sorry that I allowed other considerations to eat the time I wanted to spend writing. Some were important, but others were not.

We begin a new season and a new year this week. Let's make it special.