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Making Advent Prayerful and Intentional

Dr Chris Kurien
Rev. Dr. Chris Kurien
Dear Friends,

Greetings to you in our Lord’s name!

During November and December, we have a lot to remember and celebrate. We begin November with the observance of All Saints Sunday, remembering the Saints who have gone before us. At Lincoln Park, we have lost 13 of our saints in the past year. We remember them with gratitude, and praise God for their faithful lives and service to our church. Also in November, we’ll have an opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. While we give thanks to God for all his provisions, we remember many who feel the loss of loved ones who will not be at the Thanksgiving table this season. Life is always a mixture of joys and sorrows, and, sadly, we simply have to live with our realities.

On the last Sunday in November this year, we begin Advent — a season of anticipation and preparation. Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus, meaning arrival. St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin used Adventus as the translation of Parousia, which in the New Testa-ment is referred to as the second coming of Christ. So, Advent, when  first celebrated, was a period of preparation for Jesus’ second coming. In time, however, the remembrance of his first arrival, his birth, began to take precedence over the approaching second coming. And now, we spend the better part of two months “getting ready for Christmas.”

How can we, as a church and as a people, reclaim Advent? How can we allow it to speak to our calm but weary souls, rather than being one more thing we “have to do?” A prayerful and intentional Advent season tends to have a significant impact on our celebration of Christmas. When we observe Advent, some pre-Christmas activities are seen in a different light, perhaps becoming less important. Advent can help us slow down and pace ourselves. A slower pace makes us more aware of the promptings of the Holy Spirit, opening our eyes to that which is Holy around us; preparing the way of the Lord!

Of course, the Christmas season is the most spectacular season in the church’s life. We await the birth of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem and prepare to receive Him into our lives. How do we prepare ourselves for the arrival of the One we worship? What do we need to do to enable us to truly celebrate the birth of Jesus in the world, and much more importantly, in our lives? Will we listen to the voices within us, echoing the message of the angels that God is with us, in us, and in our world? May we run to the stable of our faith to embrace the presence of God in our neighborhoods and in our lives so that we might live fully, love freely, and care for one another.

As we prepare our special services this season, let us invite others to enjoy what we offer, that all may experience Christ. May God’s blessings and presence be with you all.

Pastor Christopher Kurien

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