The spiritual practices of Advent open us to the wonder of Christmas. They can help put us in a place where we can truly welcome the coming baby. Instead of being just one more thing to check off our lists, these practices are habits of a life tuned to God’s rhythms. These aren’t things we can ever be done with. They really are practices, the work of a disciple, ways of attending to the Spirit.
- Listen to Pray As You Go. In 15 minutes you can be transported. The bells, the music, the thoughtful readings–they help quiet my clamoring heart and give me ears to hear. There is a special Advent retreat in addition to the daily readings.
- Advent marks the opening of another church year. It’s the perfect time to start reading The Sacred Space Prayer Book. I have the 2014 edition, and am finishing up the last week of readings and prayers. Come November 30th, I’m just going to turn to the front of the book and begin again. The dates won’t line up, and I won’t be reading along with the right year in the lectionary, but I think it will still be fruitful.
- Go to church. Yes, this is a practice! If your children are up for it, see if there is a Midnight service on Christmas Eve. The candlelight, the music, the sense of anticipation fill the place.
- Listen to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on the BBC. How many times do you get to hear live broadcasts of British church services? Because of the time difference, it happens at 7 in the morning West Coast time on December 24th. Make a sweet treat, put the kettle on, and settle in. Our local classical station will stream it via the web, so we can listen together…I’ll post more details closer to the day.
- Like the Nine Lessons, the Jesse Tree reflections follow the work of redemption through time. They are based on the genealogy of Jesus from Matthew, and tell the great Old Testament stories on the way to the promised messiah. We read from the Child’s Story Bible and color images from Tired Need Sleep.
Listen to what Adele Calhoun says in The Spiritual Discipline Handbook:
Spiritual practices don’t give us “brownie points.”
They simply put us in a place where we can begin to notice God and respond to God’s word to us.
Spiritual disciplines give the Holy Spirit space to brood over our souls.
These practices give people space in their lives to keep company with Jesus.
May you find a practice that helps you prepare for the coming of the word made flesh.