celebrating advent

Advent is the season leading up to Christmas and through to Epiphany. Rather than marking the end of the year, in the Church calendar it marks the beginning of the new year, which always begins with waiting for the coming of Jesus. Each year, I find a slightly different way to move through the season of Advent with intention. I want so much to make space for God through cultivating awareness in the midst of my daily life. Having said that, my life can be busy and distracted as I wind up the work of the past year and prepare for the events of Christmastime - perhaps you feel that way too? As we approach the first Sunday of Advent, I thought I would share with you the ways I am choosing to celebrate this year - it could be you will find one of these practices seems inviting for you too, or perhaps you'd like to write and tell me other practices you are finding meaningful at this time. In amidst the shopping and the baking, the hosting and the tinsel, I would love to hear how you connect with the deeper truths at the heart of Christmas this year!

1. Listening to scripture

The team at the Transforming Centre have introduced a new podcast season for Advent. In it, they are reading through the Revised Common Lectionary readings for Advent (cycle C) and discussing the themes of the readings.

I have long been a fan of Ruth Haley Barton's books and podcast. Along with her team, she does a great job of exploring scripture in light of what is current in our world. She asks thought-provoking questions and draws on others' poetry and prayers to deepen the reflections.

I have just listened to the first episode of this season and the conversational style is warm and inviting, while the reflections are very real and even vulnerable. I am looking forward to moving through Advent with this weekly accompaniment.

2. reading poetry

Malcolm Guite has put together a wonderful collection of poems from a wide range of poets, along with some of his own. As with his Lenten anthology, he has a poem for each day of the season, followed by a short essay drawing out and reflecting on the themes of the poem.

One Lent, a friend had ordered Guite's poetry collection and, to her dismay, it didn't arrive in time. In order for her not to miss out, I began recording the poem and essay for each day as I read it aloud to the family. I then sent the recording to her via WhatsApp. We all enjoyed this connection so much (this friend is in Latvia) that we plan to do the same through Advent ... and the WhatsApp group has grown! 

If you would like to be added to the group, send your WhatsApp number via the contact form. You will receive a short recording each day through Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. 

3. sunday soup & family liturgy

While it is always appealing to meet with friends to move through Advent together, it feels important to make this as low-key and 'do-able' as possible. Some time ago, we began a rhythm of gathering for 'Sunday Soup.' With a few friends, we would get together for a simple meal of bread and soup on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes we would read aloud from the Narnia series, other times we would use conversation prompts to open up space to hear how we were all doing.

This Advent, we are re-starting our Sunday Soup tradition with a few friends, and we will be using a family liturgy for Advent created by the Transforming Centre. We will light the Advent candles together and simply read the liturgy around the table. In this way, we will create a meaningful connection with the kids as, week by week, we retell the story of the coming of Jesus and anchor Christmas celebrations firmly in the bigger story.

I love these moments and I can't wait to get started!