The Season is upon us! No, I don't mean the Christmas Season, I mean the Advent season. This Sunday we will start the season of Advent that includes four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day. The word Advent means a coming into place, view, or being, an arrival. During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation, and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was promised by his first coming.
One of the favorite parts of the Advent season in the Rapko household is our Advent Calendar. We love counting down the days of Advent, or at least we enjoy the method for counting down the days. You see our Advent Calendar has pockets for each day of Advent, and we neatly place two Lindor Truffles in each pocket, and each day we get to anticipate the coming of our Lord and Savior by indulging in chocolatey goodness. This is the only time of the year when we feel as if it appropriate to eat such decadent candy on a daily basis. The coming of Christ definitely seems to qualify as a reason to celebrate.
I will admit though, that when I am eating that Lindor Truffle, I am rarely thinking about Jesus. Our Advent Calendar is fun, and we will definitely continue enjoying it through the years, but I'm not sure that it is quite living up to its purpose of helping me anticipate the coming of Christ.
This is because Advent is a waiting characterized not by idleness or even contented peace, but by prophetic voices and active hope. Perhaps more than any other season in the Christian calendar, Advent acknowledges the already-and-not-yet nature of the Kingdom of God. In remembering the anticipation of Christ’s first coming, we acknowledge and nurture our anticipation of Christ’s second coming. Advent is a season for the prophets, for the dreamers, for the poets. A great light has shown, but there is still so much darkness to pierce, so much gloom to overcome.
So this year I'm considering new ways to anticipate the coming of Christ, new ways to prepare my heart and mind for the greatest gift we have been given. Two particular ideas have come to mind this year: Prayer and Justice.
Prayer. Taking time each day to be in prayer sounds nice and seems easy, but even in a non-holiday season this can be a hard undertaking. But as I am trying to be more intentional about my prayer life I am looking at ways to center myself. One method I use in my personal prayer life, is called Praying in Color. This allows me a tangible way to center my thoughts and be in prayer for others. For Advent, I am using this same idea and doing this through an Advent coloring calendar. This calendar has a different page for each day during the season and allows me to focus on a scripture passage, quote, or particular prayer for each day of the season. I hope that through setting aside time each day I will be better at living into the anticipation that the season calls for.
Justice. Jesus came to bring justice to an unjust world. This year I have been particularly moved to remember those places we are called to be in ministry, but oftentimes overlook, one of which involves those who are in prison. I was shocked to learn that Georgia is number one in the country for citizens under correctional control. I was then convicted of Jesus' words to us in Matthew 25 when he says "I was in Prison and you visited me." Therefore, in order to live into bringing light in the midst of darkness, I researched ways I could do that and was empowered by the idea of sending Christmas cards to those who are imprisoned. This Season I will try to send one a day in an effort to bring a little light into a very dark place.
I will still be eating a Lindor truffle each day during this season, but I hope to also feel the deep longing of the coming of Christ by marking this season in different ways. If you are interested in joining me in these particular endeavors, I would be happy to share resources, but I would also love to hear about ways that you are marking this season in your life. O Come, O come, Emmanuel.
Rev. Cassie Rapko
Photo Credit - Typical Advent Calendar, and example of what Praying in Color looks like.