This is the first week of Celtic Advent. I have started Advent early for several years. I find it helps me baby step into the season and slows down the crazy pace of the holidays. The Celtic and Orthodox Christians honor the 40 days before Christmas as the Season of Advent. Like the 40 days of Lent, it’s a time of preparation, getting our hearts ready for the arrival of Jesus.
What do you notice about yourself as you enter the Advent season this year?
How are you feeling? Excited, Exhausted, blah, grateful, expectant, numb, something else or a combination of things? I feel like we are all running on emotional fumes these days. I realized that thanks to Covid, I’ve lost a lot of holiday rhythms. I’m out of practice when it comes to hospitality and participating in gatherings and special events. I am thinking through just what will bring me joy and draw me closer to Jesus this Season of Advent.
Talk to Jesus about where you are and where you’ d like to be by Christmas.
LIGHT A CANDLE and read PSALM 27 and then read or listen to JOHN 1:1-14 in different translations.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord
JOHN 1 : 1-14 THE FIRST NATIONS BIBLE
Long ago, in the time before all days, before the creation of all things, the one who is known as the Word was there face to face with the Great Spirit. This Word fully represents Creator and shows us who he is and what he is like. He has always been there from the beginning, for the Word and Creator are one and the same. 3Through the Word all things came into being, and not one thing exists that he did not create.
4Creator’s life shined out from the Word, giving light to all human beings. This is the true Light that comes to all the peoples of the world and shines on everyone. 5The Light shines into the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it or put it out.
6-7Into the wilderness of the Land of Promise (Judea) came a man named Gift of Goodwill (John). He was sent by the Great Spirit to tell what he knew about the Light so everyone could believe. 8He was not the Light but came to speak the truth about the Light. 9The true Light that shines on all people was coming into the darkness of this world.
10He came down into this world, and even though he made all things, the world did not recognize him. 11Even his own tribe did not welcome or honor him. 12But all who welcome and trust him receive their birthright as children of the Great Spirit. 13They are born in a new way, not from a human father’s plans or desires, but born from above—by the Great Spirit.
14Creator’s Word became a flesh-and-blood human being and pitched his sacred tent among us, living as one of us. We looked upon his great beauty and saw how honorable he was, the kind of honor held only by this one Son who fully represents his Father—full of his great kindness and truth.
JOHN 1 : 1-14 THE MESSAGE
The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.
6-8 There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
9-13 The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten.
14 The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
What is the Holy Spirit highlighting for you today?
What do you notice about these passages that you haven’t noticed before?
What do you notice about the Light?
What is your INVITATION this Advent Season?
Find a Christmas card or a blank card ….you might want to create your own card with art supplies or collage. As you look at your card ask Jesus what he is inviting you to this Advent Season.
What is Jesus inviting you to be about? What are you being invited to notice, about yourself, about the season, about your relationship with Jesus? Keep that card/invitation our on your desk or in your journal or Bible. Somewhere you will see it daily to remind you accept the invitation to the Birth of Jesus this year!
What symbol or person from the Christmas story resonates with you? LIGHT, MANGER, TREASURE MAP, STAR, CANDLES, DOORS, ANGELS, SHEPHERDS, MARY, SIMEON? Something else? Ask Jesus to highlight a symbol for you…watch for this invitation
To help you with your Advent practice, here’s a lovely Celtic Advent Calendar the whole family can use. The Calendar was created by Susan Forshey at ContemplativeCottage.com.
LISTEN TO THESE TWO SONGS:
Lord God, Calm us as we wait for the Gift of Jesus.
Cleanse us so we can prepare the way for his arrival.
Help us to slow down and prepare our hearts. Help us to wait and take time to be with you. Help us to be present to the gift of interruptions. Help us to see your LIGHT in new ways.
Teach us to contemplate the wonder of God with us.
Teach us to know the presence of your Spirit.
Teach us to bear the life of Jesus and live out his Kingdom.
Today and Always. AMEN.
(adapted from Ray Simpson of Lindesfarne)
If you are looking for a way to engage God with all your senses this ADVENT, this Sacred Space prayer experience is a series of prayer stations you can set up with your church community and invite your friends to come and pray the stations. WAITING SACRED SPACE