The veil between our world and the Kingdom becomes thin in this rich and sumptuous season of Advent. I wonder if you can feel it too? From the deep royal colours, the fresh greens, the coming together of families, and all those dazzling lights in our trees and communities, there is a deep mystery which envelopes us. This mystery captivates my heart and mind every year, calling me to internal silence as I seek out opportunities to surround myself with beauty and family in this season. Our preparation for Christmas, in this season of Advent, is as important as the moment of Christmas itself. Yet our world around us has been preparing for Christmas since the early fall, decorations will be in the boxes before the season really starts on December 25, so how do we really grasp at the thinness of this veil between our world and the Kingdom? We draw near to the mystery, because of the signs of its presence all around us.
In the passage which opened our letter, from the Gospel of Luke, we hear of the coming reception of the world. Luke’s focus in his Gospel is presenting a worldview through people, places, and experiences, which demonstrate how it is that Jesus is truly the promised Messiah. But this story is confusing because he is both here and not yet here. While it is understood as being a penitential season, it is one of expectation and hope, rather than somber sacrifice. So in our Gospel, when we hear of these signs which are all around us, pointing to the inbreaking of the Kingdom, they are both exciting and scary. They are exciting because it is the fruition of God’s plan for His creation, and scary because of how confusing and violent they will be. Just like in childbirth, great pain brings us greater joy in a new life. So too, in the coming promise of God’s Kingdom in Jesus, there will be pain as we seek to re-orientate ourselves to the world view of a Kingdom life. This way of life where there is room for everyone, money is not a weapon, colour, race, sexual orientation, and every other label we use to separate each other will no longer hold power over us. But how do we reach out, seeing these signs woven in the texture of the thin veil of this season, to prepare for its coming? Do nothing.
Yes, you heard me. Do nothing this Advent. Open yourself up to the season before us by drawing near to the source of what it is this season is about. Drawing near, for me, reminds me of that intimate embrace between lovers. It’s something that can’t be planned or forced, but it’s something which is soul nourishing and beautiful. This is what drawing near for me means, the intimate embrace between me and God- between lovers. And in order to draw near to this embrace, I must be totally alert to the signs all around me which means doing nothing. No matter how hard we try, how perfect we want it to be, how deeply we yearn for a Martha Stewart Christmas- December 25 comes if we are ready or not. So doing nothing is more about letting go of things in order to open ourselves up to what is coming all around us. Giving ourselves permission to let go of the malls, and shopping; the gift cards; and wrapping; the baking and parties; to open up space within us for beauty. To surround ourselves with music, friends, family, lights- to make moments that matter with the people who matter the most in our lives. At the end of our life, just like the end times in Luke’s Gospel, the only thing we have left at our final breath is God and our memories. So this Advent and Christmas, I want to invite you to join me in drawing near, and making memories together, at whose heart is Jesus.
In the Eucharist, we take into the very core of ourselves the person of Jesus in the Bread and Wine. At the Reign of Christ, we name this person as our King and open the palace of our heart to be his dwelling place. Advent affords us the time to prepare the table and palace of our bodies and souls for the coming of Jesus to dwell with us in the intimate embrace of God and His beloved, which is you and me. Here are a few ways for us to continue that work together this Advent. I invite you to join me to, Pray, Stop, Play.
- Pray Take up one of the two spiritual practices we are offering this Advent.
- Explore the beautiful traditions of the Anglican Rosary as we dig into the names of Christ in the O Antiphons- which are ancient hymns of the church. Come as a learner or an experienced practitioner. This program is offered from the comfort of your home through email. All are welcome.
- Explore the nature of Christ in the world around us through the diocesan supported program “Living in the Edge” with reflections and lectionary support. This is also an at-home self reflection package. All are welcome.
- Stop Give yourself permission to stop, in order to find something life-giving. Find a reason to go for coffee with a friend, rather than shop. Make a sumptuous meal, or binge watch your favorite Netflix show with someone you care about. Find a reason to stop in the midst of this season and build community while doing it.
- Play Find places in your day to play. Go for a walk in the park or by the water. Attend a choral music event. See an art gallery, carol ships, christmas light displays or tour the christmas decorations in the hotels downtown, with those you love. Find places to play in the intimacy of God’s creativity present all around us.
The signs of the times are indeed all around us. Pray. Stop. Play. Let this be our song this Advent, as we draw nearer to the source of the most intimate embrace imaginable, God made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. Here is a link to our online donation page for a Christmas offering, in support of our continued mission to make disciples of all people, because of the nearness of God’s presence in our own life. Pray with it, and give joyfully, of your ability, to our transformative ministry in this place.
God is near, make ready your hearts. Our lover is on the way.