Musings From Mother Liz

Mother Liz & PJIt’s hard to believe, but the “holidays” are right around the corner.  I love that in its wisdom, the Church set aside a season of preparation for Christmas, called Advent.  A time of watching and waiting; a time of quiet contemplation and prayer in the midst of all the activities that can consume us as Christmas approaches.  As many of you know, I am a bit of an Advent ‘junky’.  I need the season of Advent in order to embrace Christmas fully – I think we all do.  I think of Advent as pilgrimage.  I am on a journey to Bethlehem, to see the wonderful miracle that God has promised.  A Messiah, foretold in the Hebrew scriptures and realized in Jesus the Christ.

Over time, several people have asked me what they might do to intentionally mark the time of Advent.  So I thought I would share a couple of ideas with you.  If you have practices that you have found useful, please share them on the St. Matthew’s FaceBook page.

Reading

I am a big reader, and I enjoy adding to my daily devotions by reading books and articles created for the Advent season.  Here are some books that might interest you:

Watch for the Light:  a series of 50 devotional readings for Advent and Christmas from noted authors, including  Henri Nouwen, Bernard of Clairvaux, Kathleen Norris, St. Thomas Aquinas, Karl Rahner,  Edith Stein, Karl Barth, Oscar Romero, Evelyn Underhill, Dorothy Day, Brennan Manning, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Annie Dillard, Martin Luther, St. John Chrysostom, and C. S. Lewis.  I have used this book for several years and never tire of it.

God is in the Manger:  a series of 40 readings for Advent, Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany from Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45), a Christian minister, seminary professor, and theologian who became one of the leading voices of opposition against Nazism during World War II. He was a founding member of Germany’s Confessing Church and was executed for participating in a plot to assassinate Hitler. His theological views have become highly influential in the years since his death.  This will be my reading for this year.
Kneeling in Bethlehem: poetry for the season of Advent and Christmas from Anne Weems. Amazon.com says, “In a style that is reverent and faith-filled, Anne Weems reflects on the mystery of the Christmas season. Included in this collection are twenty-six new poems as well as popular selections from her earlier works, especially Reaching for Rainbows and Family Faith Stories.  If you love poetry, you will love this book.
Prayer
Taking on a new prayer discipline is another way to mark the season.  You can use the Book of Common Prayer to pray Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer.  There are also abbreviated daily prayer offices: Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families (p. 137-140) offers a prayer structure for both morning and evening; an Order of Worship for the Evening (p. 109-114) provides something more substantial than daily devotions, but still abbreviated from the office of Evening Prayer.  Or you could try praying Compline (p.127-135) before bed.

Another option is the use of prayer beads.  Last year around this time, we made Anglican rosaries for Chaplain Donna Mote to pass out to travelers at Atlanta Airport and some of those involved began praying the rosary.  The Anglican (Episcopal) rosary is quite flexible in the prayers you use, so their use in Advent can have specific Advent prayers.  There is a wonderful book, titled, “Praying with Beads”, by Nan Lewis Doerr and Virginia Stem Owens, that offers rosary prayers for each liturgical season of the year.  In our next e-letter, I will offer some prayers and scriptures you might find useful.

 



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