by The Rev. Kathryn Costas
Advent begins this weekend. What is Advent? It is the first season of the Church Year. A time to begin, to start anew. A time to reflect on the past year at Grace and to offer gratitude for all that has been and a time to look forward and prepare for this new year. We move from using green as the color for vestments and church hangings to advent blue.
You will see the Advent Wreath up front which we will light at every service, a new candle being lit with each new Sunday. The center candle, the Christ Candle, is lit on Christmas Eve and burns through the Christmas season.
Advent is a time of preparing ourselves for Christmas. Not by shopping and decorating and singing Christmas songs, though I admit that has become part of Advent. I wonder though, if there is a way to focus less on those things that need to be done and a bit more time reflecting on this season of Advent? It might mean carving out an extra twenty minutes a day to sit in centering prayer, or time to read a short Advent meditation and reflect upon that reading. Consider attending a Contemplative Eucharist on Wednesday evenings at 6:30pm, or join us for a conversation on spirituality following that service. The third Wednesday of Advent we will again offer a Service of Shadow and Light, a time set apart to acknowledge that this is not a joyous time for everyone, a time to respect the grieving that many people carry with them during this time of year. Even if you are not grieving or sad, your presence may be a support for those who are.
Another way to make this Advent a time set apart from usual activities might be to volunteer with our Jubilee Ministries, they would welcome your presence. Speak to Glenda Andrews about Jubilee House, Nancy Johnson about the Food Pantry, or Kate Wood about Friday Meals, and Erin House, who coordinates a couple of the Sunday lunches, would welcome families helping out.
We prepare our hearts to receive the Christ Child. In order to receive, we first have to open ourselves. What does it mean to open our hearts to God? How do we live the love that we profess to in our Baptismal Covenant? How can we share God’s love knowingly and freely? And how do we build connections here at Grace Church? All good questions to reflect upon this holy season. Enter this season with expectation and preparation.