As we approach Advent, Fr. Dean has been inviting us to be counter-cultural by living into the church year. Simultaneously, the daily office has us in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. It's striking me in a different way this year how absurdly beautiful Jesus's teaching sounds in our secular society. For example, [t]his is [the beginning of] what he said (Matthew 5:2-5, The Message):
blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of
God and his rule.
What!? I don't need to be my best self or pull myself together to develop good habits to be blessed?
blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you
be embraced by the One most dear to you.
What!? There's someone who fully embraces me when I'm bereft and feeling alone?
blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the
moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
What!? I don't need to strive to be more or "do my work" to be less to be blessed and satisfied?
Counter-cultural! And it goes on from there.
So, if you’re looking for a way to engage Advent and live into God’s revolutionary approach (revolutionary in every era), here are a few suggestions that don’t require thinking ahead or expense:
- reflect on the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) intentionally over the next weeks
- listen to Steve Bell’s recently released Advent audiobook. Each of the 10 chapters is about 10 minutes and ends with one of Steve's songs.
- listen to Advent playlists
- borrow one of the Advent books on display in our Resource Centre
- pray morning and/or evening prayer
- borrow a prayer book,
- use the Common Prayer Canada app (Book of Common Prayer),
- find the readings at the Online Lectionary (Book of Alternative Services or BCP),
- access the services in the Book of Alternative Services (PDF)
- watch The Chosen series and read the Gospels along with it
- review Fr. Dean's suggestions for something that draws you
The point of these suggestions is not to burden you with a need to strive.
The point is to find ways to rest in God's presence and truth as we start a new year.
This poem captures some of that desire.
As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.
This poem is from Oblique Prayers, copyright ©1984 by Denise Levertov, and also appears in Levertov’s The Stream and the Sapphire: Selected Poems on Religious Themes.