Every year I see Advent somewhat differently. Partly it is because seasons of the liturgical year as well as prayer itself inform our life, and our life changes from year to year. Traditionally Advent is a preparation for Christmas, so it is always good to try and create intentional space where we will encounter God in daily life, and let Him prepare us to celebrate His birthday at Christmas. This can be done by pausing few times a day: becoming aware of God’s presence, we let it sip into our life. It is also useful to spend some time in prayer each day, ten or twenty minutes, even if we need to rearrange our schedule in order to incorporate daily prayer.
The four weeks of Advent also remind us that Christ comes to us every day, in everyday events of our lives. There are areas of our lives where we may need His coming more, where in a way we need God to light our inner candle, similarly like we are lighting the Advent candles. This happens in the intimacy of prayer. When we are alone with God, we enter into the sanctuary of our hearts recognising it as the sacred ground. In that sacred space we can share what we treasure the most with God, we nurture ourselves on His presence, and if we need to, we ask healing for ourselves or others.
“God works as much in the darkness as He does in the light”, says the Rev. Ruth Patterson. Advent affirms this truth. This inner workings of God can sometimes be painful, as He brings His light deeper into our being. But we need to remind ourselves it is for our good. Like childbirth, some things in life are painful, and yet very rewarding.
Whatever joy or sorrow, thanksgiving prayer or prayer of petition is within you heart, know that God listens, He knows your deepest needs. And may this be a truly holy season, the one in which Christ will be born again within your heart.
Dr Iva Beranek is the Ministry Facilitator for the CMH: Ireland