Advent begins this Sunday. For many of us that means a continuation of an already busy season. Working for a corporation, I always used to think that Christmas was a super busy time. I always had year end reporting I had to complete, inevitable seasonal hiring and in some cases firing, presents for my direct staff employees to buy, and the tempo of the business I was in always increased dramatically around Thanksgiving and didn’t taper off until well into February/March. Needless to say, when I started my ministry, everything was added onto that craziness. It was a mad rush to the finish every Christmas Day.
Like, many of you, all of that work craziness did not even include the family obligations: the shopping, wrapping, putting together toys, the travelling for the holiday, the festivities, office parties, etc. Looking back, it is a wonder I didn’t implode from all the insanity of just “being” busy.
This Advent season I am inviting you all to savor the season by finding time to rest and be still with God. For many of us we need to start small. In fact, for many of us, we need to find small nuggets throughout the day and the week where we can be still. However, in doing so, I believe that you will recapture your wonder at the coming Christ this holiday season.
We often get too busy with being busy. That isn’t to say that there are not important things that must and need to get done. Rather what I am encouraging you to do is find time for your spiritual practices-or your acts of piety. These include: Prayer, Searching the Scriptures, Holy Communion, Fasting, being in Christian Community, and Healthy Living. Many of these go hand in hand and are not exclusive.
I am proposing that just as you often give up something for Lent, so I am suggesting that you add something for Advent. Look at your day and see what is missing. What element of your spiritual life has suffered due to your busyness this season? Maybe you find that you are so busy that you don’t have time to pray or that you find you are only praying when you believe you need something. The great news is: Prayer can happen anytime, anywhere. I encourage you to pray when you are cooking, doing dishes, driving (although remain focused on the road please ?), even while brushing your teeth. Taking time every day to thank God for all that you have is a simple but profound way to reconnect with our creator. I have also shared that YouVersion is a great bible app that lets you choose devotionals, have your scriptures read to you as you walk or drive or do things around the house. Spending sacred time in scripture has never been easier! There are many terrific bible apps out there and I hope you can find one that works for you and your lifestyle!
Fasting is important. We often only think of fasting in terms of food, which is certainly a part of it, but giving up something that’s important is also a great way to reconnect with God. In fact, many times it is in our spiritual practice of fasting that helps us best find that time to reconnect with God-especially when we fast from television, sporting events, spending sprees, etc. The same with communion. Allowing time for yourself to take in the body and blood of Christ is a simple and powerful way to connect with the risen Christ.
Finally, healthy living. Rest is so important to God that it was demanded in Sabbath. Work six days and rest one. It is modelled after our entire world being created. We often neglect rest and it puts incredible space between us and God in many ways. We create less time for God, less time for our minds and bodies to experience God, and emotionally we drain ourselves so that as we journey towards the manger on Christmas Eve we arrive broken and exhausted rather than filled with hope and exited expectation.
I invite you to take time for God this Advent season and treat yourself to rest. Find sacred time every single day to be still with God. Whether a few moments or a few hours, we must never feel guilty for giving God any of our time.
God is always with each and every one of us but are we always fully with God?
I am excited this Advent season with all the amazing opportunities to be in community here in La Junta UMC. I pray this is a season that we draw nearer to God and deeper into relationship with God!
May it be so,
Rev Lou Ward
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