As we approach the third Sunday of Advent, you’re probably feeling the usual holiday excitement and bustle. You have your everyday tasks — earn a living, keep your chosen residence from falling apart, etc. — plus all the holiday activities. Decorating the tree. Present shopping. Sending Christmas cards. Holiday parties. Baking. You want to bring your kids to see The Nutcracker. There’s that amazing light show in City Park.
The Advent season is both beautiful, and challenging for Christians because in order to celebrate the season in the church, we are asked to make time for contemplation and anticipation during a busy, exciting time. Holiday season activities are usually pleasant and often special in a way that only sacred family rituals can be special. Setting up the old nativity set that your grandmother used when she was a child with the one odd-looking replacement wise man because Melchior got lost somewhere over the years. Baking the particular Christmas snickerdoodle cookies without which your brother would regard the holiday season as incomplete. Our family always decorates the tree together with a particular kind of music in the background, and we always put the Diva Angel in the prime spot under the star.
These rituals are good, and they are their own way of preparing for Christmas, but it’s important to make time for focus and contemplation among all the bustle — time to think about what happened 2000 years ago when a tiny baby named Jesus was born to a (temporarily) itinerant carpenter’s wife. Time to try to fathom the unfathomable as we prepare to light candles and sing “Silent Night,” and, again, welcome the infant Jesus into our midst.
As you seek ways to maintain balance between bustle and contemplation, we hope you will make use of these classes.They can be used in church settings, of course, but they’re also good ways to enhance your personal devotional time during this sacred season.
Advent: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year with Susan Goff, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, invites us to take on some practical and inspiring disciplines in this season. Bishop Goff offers ways to contemplate more fully what it truly means to prepare for and anticipate the newness of Christ dwelling in our hearts.
Advent For Families with the Rev. Heath Howe offers ways to help families focus on Advent as a season of anticipation. Heath suggests reasons for families to celebrate Advent in their homes and offers guidance on activities and other ways for families to experience a rich Advent season together.
Introduction to Advent with the Rev. Tim Schenck introduces the season of Advent to people who would like to learn more about it. Tim explores the themes, rituals, and characters on which we focus during Advent and suggests rich ways for Christians to engage the season.
This Advent, we also offer The Big Class: Getting More Out of the Bible with Archbishop Justin Welby free through the entire season. This class approaches Advent as the beginning of the Church new year and discusses ways in which Christians can read scripture more often and more productively over the coming year.
We hope that you find these classes useful in enriching your Advent season.