Advent, the Church New Year, invites members of the body of Christ at Grace-St. Luke’s and throughout the world to “begin again” the journey with Jesus. Following the church calendar’s longest season of Pentecost, which celebrates the birth of the church and spiritual growth of its members, Advent is about awaiting new life, a gift I suspect we all might welcome.
Just as one, like the Blessed Virgin Mary, awaits the gift of a child, or hopes for a new and good beginning for whatever reason (“out with the old, in with the new”), Christians “do” Advent to prepare for the celebration of the birth of “God with us” at Christmas. Our intentional Advent prayers, lessons, hymns, anthems, formation offerings, service, and fellowship focus on the rich meaning of the season. Each is intended for us to keep awake and pay attention in order to recognize the Messiah and not slumber to his reason for coming as the Savior of the world.
More than other times of the year, Advent calls and challenges us to slow down, while everything around us seems to speed up. Because there are some things or activities we can control and some we cannot, engaging Advent is all about trying – trying to do some things differently in order to bring peace to our soul and offer blessings to the souls of others.
Advent reminds me of a poem (“Slow me down”) located on the wall of an entrance into St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford, Mississippi. Before each procession and as worshippers made their way into the nave for the liturgy, these words were prominently displayed. We could see and feel changes after one stopped long enough to meditate on them. May the prayerful words of Wilfred A. Peterson encourage and bless our Advent season.
Slow me down, Lord. Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal march of time. Give me amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the eternal hills. Break the tension of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations, of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines of a good book. Slow me down, Lord and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life's enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.
God’s peace and blessings as we try,
The Rev. Ollie V. Rencher, Rector