On Sunday we will begin a journey through the season of Advent. During Advent, the start of the church year or liturgical calendar, we wait expectantly for the coming Christ child.
I’ve never been a huge fan of waiting…is anybody a fan of waiting? A lot of times I distract myself from the wait by keeping myself busy. I think that might be a lot of people’s approach to the coming Christmas season. We busy ourselves with decorating, buying or making presents, cooking and baking, hosting and celebrating. We fill our calendars with fun, good things. We blink and the season is over and it’s time to pack away the decorations and take a nap.
I find myself sort of bracing myself for the Advent season because I know there will be so many good things going on that I want to be a part of and want to invite others to be a part of, too. It’s a special season of time with community, but it can be hard to find time to slow down and reflect on what it is, or rather who it is, we are waiting for in this season of Advent.
In past years I’ve passively taken note of Advent. I’ve watched on the four Sunday mornings leading up to Christmas as different families in our church community read Scripture and light the Advent candles. (I’ve also been part of reading and lighting at various times over the years.) I’ve helped decorate the church and my home. I’ve faithfully opened a chocolate calendar counting down the days from the first day of December to the twenty-fourth day of December (the dates for Advent are a little loose for this particular tradition).
I’ll do all of these things again this year, and I’m looking forward to them, but this year I’m also carving out time for reflection. Over the past few weeks I have been writing a series of blogs that will post on the three Tuesdays during Advent and on Christmas Day.
(If you haven’t done so yet, I invite you to subscribe to my blog so that you will receive these Advent reflections in your email as soon as they are posted.)
I’ve really enjoyed exploring Scripture and reflecting on a few of the themes of Advent: hope, love, peace, and joy.
Each post has a portion of the Scripture text included. I’ve provided the texts I’m exploring with the hope that you will take the opportunity to revisit them throughout the week.
One spiritual practice that has enriched my journey with Christ over the past few years is Lectio Divina, which is Latin for Divine Reading. Basically, this practice involves reading a Scripture passage slowly and attentively, reflecting in silence, then praying either aloud or through writing. There are a number of different ways to engage Lectio Divina, some of which are intended for use in a group. What I’ve provided below is an adaptation that may work well as you practice on your own.
A Guide to Practicing Lectio Divina
Set aside 15 to 30 minutes to spend in a quiet place where you can relax and attend to God’s presence without distraction.
The first time you read the passage, pay attention to any word or phrase that stands out to you. Repeat that word or phrase in your mind as you reflect for a couple of minutes.
The second time you read the passage, consider how the Scripture touches your life right now. Take a few minutes to reflect.
The third time, reflect about how God might be calling you to respond. As you consider that call, spend some time praying and responding to God. Perhaps it is a call to repentance over something, or to forgive, or to give thanks. Whatever it is, take the opportunity to express yourself to God as you would to a friend.
Finally, after you read the passage for the fourth time, simply rest in silence.
Then, when you feel ready, conclude your time with prayer.
Lectio Divina is a practice. It may feel strange at first and you may find yourself bored or antsy. I encourage you to keep practicing, though. Perhaps as we journey through Advent you will become more comfortable and find that you are connecting with God in a way you haven’t before.
As Advent begins this Sunday, may we find moments in our days when we can turn our attention toward God. May we wait with expectation for the coming Christ and may we find that even as we wait, Christ is present with us now.