Saturday, November 27, 2010
Advent: A public service reminder
Here's what I wrote for the All Saints newsletter for December:
Happy Advent! I like to think of Advent as the secret season, known only to a few. The rest of the world is crazy and consumed with consumerism, but inside the church, we’re a little quieter, a little contemplative. There’s something a little somber about Advent—not gloomy, but maybe a bit melancholy. Our winter season helps with that, of course, as the days get shorter and chillier here in the Northern hemisphere. The weather itself suggests we should slow down and settle in for a bit.
I think Advent is an excellent season for clearing out clutter. I don’t just mean the actual physical clutter, of course, but the spiritual clutter that builds up when we don’t have the time or space to reflect. “Let every heart prepare him room,” says the carol, and Advent is the time for preparing that space for the Christ child to enter.
By "spiritual clutter" I mean whatever it is that makes it harder for you to love God and love your neighbor. It may be an over-busy schedule. It may be the pursuit of a nebulous or unreal goal. It may be expectations you place on yourself or on others. It may be a grudge or a fantasy. If you ask yourself what makes it harder for you to love God and neighbor, take a look at what comes up. It may be spiritual clutter, and it might need to go.
I know the heat is on to get everything done and ready and wrapped and perfect, and I don’t want to add any pressure to that. But I would encourage you this Advent to take even a few moments to reflect, to take a walk in nature, to have a quiet evening, taking a look at the spiritual clutter and preparing Christ room. You don’t have to do it perfectly. But you might find the preparation brings you closer to God, to your neighbor, and to your true self.