|My Advent Candles|
I also had a rather dismissive view of liturgy and religious tradition - finding it repetitious and empty to pray prayers that others had written or to follow some cycle year after after year. I had the faulty view that things that were not new were not fresh. I thought that for it to be authentic it must be spontaneous. I believed that to be sincere it should come only from me.
In so thinking I missed the beauty of joining with other believers in honoring Jesus and His Bride.
I didn't have any great moment of realization -but over the past few years I've been attracted to the beauty of the tradition, of the pondered, of the season of the Christian year - the liturgical year. Advent is when I am most aware of it - but I would love to be more disciplined to observe the rest of the liturgical year.My current church does not observe the liturgical year either - I don't thinks it's very common in Evangelical churches - I find that sad. I did enjoy visiting a liturgical church last year and so loved being able to remember the season along with other believers.
People who live in places without seasons don't typically list their climate as perfect. Almost all of them will tell you they miss the changes, the seasons. Since moving to Chicago, a place with far more definition of the seasons than my hometown of Atlanta, I have come to understand the waiting for seasons - whether it to be for them to come or go. Near the end of winter - I get positively giddy thinking about the possibility of temperatures above freezing, of not having lug around a coat, of seeing something green growing from the ground. As spring lingers on I can't wait to be able to sit on the sand next to the lake and soak in the sun as I look out on Lake Michigan. In the scorching days of summer, when the humidity saps my strength as soon as I walk outside, I wish for and remember the chilly nights of autumn - the beautiful leaves and the smell of chimney smoke in the air. And, unexpectedly, I find myself ready for what I was so ready to be done with months ago - a crisp, white, clean blanket of snow. The magical silence it brings to the world - the freshness. All seasons have their purpose. in some seasons I take more time to sit and ponder - literally. In other seasons I'm out and moving and trying to accomplish a million things. Seasons and cycles have a purpose - they guide us through life.
All of that rambling to say, I really enjoy observing Advent. I find it beneficial to remember the time of waiting and longing for the coming of the Lord in the history of the Church. To remember how even now people wait and long for the coming of the Lord. I downloaded an Advent guide a few years ago and I still use it. I love that the prayers give me words - give me things to ponder - force my mind and heart to think on things that may have not sprung "fresh" and "spontaneous" from my own mind.
For this, the first Sunday of Advent I pray,
"Let us pray in Advent time with longing and waiting for the coming of the Lord. Father in heaven our hearts desire the warmth of your love and our minds are searching for the light of your Word. Increase our longing for Christ our Savior and give us the strength to grow in love, that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and welcoming the light of his truth. Only you can see into my heart and know that under all the busy-ness of my life, there is a deep longing to make this Advent one that welcomes you more deeply into my own life."