Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent: An Introduction

I love Advent.

I mean, I love Advent! It's my favorite time of the year...and really, it's not even close. You've got cold weather, Christmas decorations, and the already/not-yet coming of Christ, all at once? I'm in!!

People know this about me. :)

So it's been a great pleasure over the past few years to help head up some of the Advent preparations and celebrations in some of the churches we've served in (Oklahoma, Poland, and now the UK).

Last Sunday night we were asked to lead a sort of "Introduction to Advent" evening at the Ashton Church of the Nazarene. It was a great time of remembering, reflection, and renewal; I think we're all a lot more excited about the almost-here-ness of Advent as a result.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar, Advent is a season of four Sundays before Christmas when we remember and re-tell the story of a God who loved the people God created so much that he came to earth to live and love as a human (starting as a newborn baby). Amazing stuff!

If you'd like to learn more -or maybe just brush up on some British Advent traditions- some basic information from last week's "Advent 101" is enclosed below! :) 
Advent is the first season of the the Christian calendar year, and thus begins in the chill of winter. The word "advent," comes from the Latin adventus, meaning "coming" or "arrival." During this season of Advent, we await the coming of Jesus, our Messiah. 

It is not only we who wait, however; all of creation seems also to be in waiting. Trees wait to bloom again, and plants wait to blossom. While we as a people symbolically anticipate Christ’s arrival as a babe on Christmas morning, we also eagerly await His second coming. 

For centuries, Christians have used the Advent wreath to symbolize this sacred season of longing and expectation. The candles we light each week will mark our progress as a people through this period of hope and anticipation for our coming Lord.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Seeing the depths of things.

"It is not enough that we behave better; we must come to see things differently. We must learn to see the depths of things, not just reality at superficial levels.

"This especially means we need to see the nonseparateness of the world from God and the oneness of all reality in God; the Hidden Ground of Love in all that is.

"Prayer is a kind of corrective lens that does away with the distorted view of reality that, for some mysterious reason, seems to be my normal vision, and enables me to see what is as it really is."
-William H. Shannon, Silence on Fire

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Imitation of Christ

Use the things of the world, but long for the things of eternity. You cannot be fully satisfied by material possessions, for you are simply not made to enjoy them. 

Even if you owned every good thing in the world you would not be happy and blessed, for your blessedness and joy is in God, who created all those things.

Your happiness is not in what is seen and admired by others, but in what the good and faithful followers of Christ seek. Your happiness is in what the spiritual and pure of heart...sometimes experience in this life, though it is meant for the next.

Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ