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First Week of Advent

As we begin Advent, we light one candle in the midst of all the darkness in our lives and in the world. It symbolizes our longing, our desire, our hope. Three “advents” or “comings” shape our desire. We want to be renewed in a sense that Jesus came to save us from our sin and death. We want to experience his coming now, in our every day lives, to help us live our lives with meaning and purpose. And we want to prepare for Jesus’ coming to meet us at the end our our lives on earth.

So we begin with our longing, our desire and our hope.

When we wake up each day this week, we could light that candle, just by taking a few minutes to focus. We could light an inner candle as we pause for a minute at the side of our bed, or while putting on our slippers or robe. Who among us doesn’t have time to pause for a moment? We could each find our own way to pray perhaps something like this:

Lord, the light I choose to let into my life today is based on my trust in you. It is a weak flame, but I so much desire that it dispel a bit more darkness today as I carry out my responsibilities of my work and home.  Let this candle be my reminder today of my hope in your coming.

Each morning this week, that momentary prayer might get more specific as it prepares us for the day we face. As we head to work, walk to a meeting, rush through lunch, take care of errands, meet with people, pick up the phone to return some calls, answer email, return home to prepare a meal listen to the ups and downs of our loved one’s day, we can take brief moments to relate our desire for the three comings of the Lord to our lives.

If the family has an Advent wreath or even if it doesn’t, we could pray together before our evening meal as we light the first candle on the wreath, or as we simply pause to pray together our usual grace.

Then, as we begin to eat, we can invite each other, including the children, to say something about what it means today to light this first candle.

Perhaps we could ask a different question each night or  ask for examples. 

  • How am I getting in touch with the longing within me?
  • How did I prepare today?
  • What does it mean to prepare to celebrate Jesus’ coming 2010 years ago?
  • How can we prepare to experience his coming into our lives this year?
  • What does it mean for us now, with our world involved in so much conflict?
  • How are we being invited to trust more deeply?
  • How much more do we long for his coming to us, in the midst of the darkness of our world?
  • In what ways can we renew our lives so we might be prepared to greet Jesus when he comes again? 

The evening meal could be transformed this week, if the conversation shared at the table could light a candle of anticipation in us.  Don’t worry if everyone isn’t “good at” this kind of conversation at first. The conversation can be based on our monentary pauses throughout each day in which we are discovering deeper and deeper desires, in the midst of our everyday lives.

At the end of our day we could pause briefly reflecting on how that one, small candle’s worth of desire brought light into this day. And we give thanks. Going to bed each night this week with some gratitude is part of the preparation for growing anticipation and desire.

                            Come, Lord Jesus!  Come and visit your people./We await your coming. Come, O Lord.

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