This past Sunday was the first week of Advent. It was the first week of the Church’s calendar. Advent marks a beginning. Advent marks a time of looking. Advent marks a time of waiting for the Christ child.
We live in a secular age. The sacred is pushed to the sidelines. No longer does the broader culture center on the church and what is happening there.
To keep the sacred at the center of our lives is a heroic act of defiance. Being spiritual is not enough. Vague spirituality too easily becomes little more than my own feelings or mood with a sprinkling of “wellness” techniques. Personally, I need something more rigorous, something more deeply rooted, something that draws upon the deep wells of ancient wisdom and practice.
This is what we find in the tradition of the Christian faith. We have a sacred calendar, a way of marking time through the course of the year by telling the story of Christ Jesus. This sacred calendar is meant to form our lives through the gospel story. In our secular world, however, we have a calendar that operates differently. Our secular calendars coordinate our lives within a secular age.
Of course, Christmas is now firmly entrenched in the secular calendar as well. The sacred calendar of the church and the secular calendar approach Christmas quite differently. The demand of the secular “Christmas Season” is to be in a great hurry, going from one place to another in search of the latest deal. That hurry can leave a person completely worn out or possibly even feeling “less than.”
While the secular calendar demands hurry, the intention of Advent is to instill a quiet slowness into our soul. Advent is four weeks of longing for the coming of Messiah. Advent is about waiting—a practice most of us in our secular age struggle with. Yet patience is a holy virtue we need to cultivate.
So, as we journey together through Advent, we embrace the slowness, we lean into the waiting. And this is good for our soul.
May God bless you in the waiting of this Advent,
Travis Segar, Pastor for Care and Community