anticipating advent

I began reading a book entitled The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister this week. It is a spiritual practice that I have been interested in for a long time, desiring to get in tune with a different way of looking at and experiencing the passage of time.

In Chittister’s words, “the liturgical year is the process of coming back year after year to look at what we already know, on one level, but are newly surprised by again and again.” While some Christians are turned off by the “L” word because it seems too ritualistic or repetitive, Chittister argues that the liturgical year presents us with new challenges as we progress through life; we gain fresh insight and perspective into each new season based on where we are and what we are going through in that particular time. In her words, “every different kind of year demands different strengths of us, provides different kinds of gifts for us, enables different kinds of sensibilities in us.” Therefore, as each year passes, we are able to experience the grace of each season from the point of view of where we have been and where Christ is continually calling us to go.

I was sitting in Tim Horton’s this afternoon, enjoying a double double, writing in my journal and thinking about where Lauren and I are at these days, and I was reminded of these words from Chittister in relation to the upcoming season of Advent:

Advent is about learning to wait. It is about not having to know exactly what is coming tomorrow, on that whatever it is, it is the essence of sanctification for us. Every piece of it, some hard, some uplifting, is sign of the work of God alive in us. We are becoming as we go. We learn in Advent to stay in the present, knowing that only the present well lived can possibly lead to the fullness of life.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Lauren and I are fully immersed in a period of waiting; we wait to hear back about employment opportunities, and we even wait for the rest of our stuff to arrive in the post. But, as the season of Advent reminds us year after year, there is great value in waiting. We wait for the coming Christ, ‘God With Us’, here to set us free and give us new life, constantly calling us to follow him.

Waiting – that cold, dry period of life when nothing seems to be enough and soemthing else beckons within us – is the grace that Advent come to bring. It stands before us, within us, pointing to the star for which the wise ones from the East are only icons of ourselves.

As I sat there this afternoon, looking out at the fallen leaves and enjoying the warmth of a coffee on a grey and chilly day, I couldn’t help but think that this season of Advent will take a unique shape for us – free to anticipate only him with the hope that a light will indeed soon shine around us, and believing that that which we have been waiting and hoping for will indeed come to pass.

    • Brad Johnson
    • November 17th, 2009

    Just wanted to say thanks for writing my sermon this week.

    • Ian
    • November 17th, 2009

    Have you read any of the books in the Ancient Practices Series, Brad? I think you would dig them.

    Here’s a link to the 1st one.

    Miss you, roomie. When are we getting together?

      • Brad Johnson
      • November 28th, 2009

      yeah man. I read “in constant prayer” and … man I forget! something else. they are so good.

    • Sabrina
    • November 24th, 2009

    Hello friends,

    Thank you for this post. The first quote about advent and waiting has brought tears to my eyes tonight – and is very much what my heart needed to hear.

    Praying that your time of waiting will be met, and that the waiting would be fruitful and growing times.

    Much love.

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