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Advent: a time to pause, ponder, prepare

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Advent has long been one of my favorite times of the church year. Much of that fondness stems from the family traditions we practiced when I was a kid. Each year, my church would host a massive Advent wreath making event. The wreath we made would find a home on our kitchen table. Each evening, when we sat down for dinner, we would start with lighting the wreath and use the devotional materials we brought home from church. The candles stayed lit through the meal. It felt special. Of course, some of that appeal might have been because I was quite excited about using matches to light the candles. The small indulgence of a piece of chocolate from my Advent calendar every night only helped to strengthen my enjoyment of the season.

This love for Advent has led me to produce some take home materials for the season, each week focusing on a different theme. This year, the 4th week of Advent starts on Christmas Eve, so we more or less get a morning for that, then we jump right into Christmas. With the help of our worship planning guide, Sundays and Seasons, this year our three weeks of Advent will take us through the three themes of Pause, Ponder, and Prepare. I'm still working on developing the materials for this year, but the intent is that you can use them alone or with family or friends, perhaps centered around an Advent wreath.

To that end, St. John will be hosting an Advent wreath making event Sunday, December 3rd, after service. Materials will be available to start from scratch to make a wreath, or perhaps revamp a well-loved wreath from years past. This wreath making kicks off the Advent offerings at St. John that will continue Wednesday, December 6th at 6:00 pm, with the first mid-week Advent service.

Wednesday evening Advent services will be based around the Holden Evening Prayer. The services will feature peaceful music with periods of reflection to help us slow down in the midst of a culturally busy season. These services are different than other things that might be filling our schedules this season. They are a time we can set aside to intentionally pause, ponder, and prepare. Services continue through the second and third weeks of Advent.

The second week of Advent will begin with a greeting card event after service on Sunday, December 10th. Worshipers young and old are invited to prepare messages of love to share with those in our St. John community and beyond. Supplies will be available to create some cards from scratch, or use ready-made cards. Make cards for our friends residing and working at the Medilodge at the end of the street who we have met through our Pathways in Compassion ministry, members of St. John and those within our community who have difficulties joining us in person, or anyone else you'd like to extend some cheer to.

We close out our second week of advent with the Christmas Peace service, Saturday, December 16th at 6:00 pm. We recognize that this joyous season may be difficult for some. The Christmas Peace service invites us into a service of music, readings, and reflections to help us find peace.

The next morning, as we celebrate the third Sunday of Advent, we will turn to dreams for God's Garden at St. John. Advent is a perfect time to map out all the things we want to grow, learn, and do in the garden. Materials will be provided to aid people in sharing their vision of the garden and this ministry.

Like Lent, Advent is a good time to focus on spiritual practices. Our days will continue to get shorter as we wait and prepare for the coming light. I hope that you might join St. John in the many ways we can explore and practice our faith during this special season.

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