An Invitation to Wait
I’m starting to think about Christmas, not in any detail really but at the level of “where shall we celebrate that particular Holy Day/holiday?” With our family in England or, as usual, in our adopted Belgian home? I’d prefer to celebrate it here in Belgium, as it’s the first chance in more than a year that our daughter will have to return to “her” room from studying abroad.
And it won’t be long now before someone points out to me that it is “only x number of shopping days to Christmas!”, with all the unlooked-for pressure and unhelpful emphases of that remark. But I think it is unlikely that anyone will remind me that it is only 27 days until the beginning of Advent (28 November this year).
Advent – that period leading up to Christmas where we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus into this world and think forward to His second coming, however we picture that. A time of waiting, of expectation. Some churches have a particular way of focussing the waiting – the advent wreath, which its four (often red) candles and each candle representing something specific, depending on the tradition of that church.
In my experience, waiting is a very varied experience. I can think of the great excitement with which I waited to go on my first holiday abroad as a young married woman (an insalubrious coach-trip plus camping experience – one of the best holidays I’ve ever had!). But waiting can also be boring, hard to understand, frightening and isolating – something to wrestle with rather than enjoy. Haven’t we done enough kind of waiting like this recently? Is there another way to think about the whole thing?
As we get nearer to the start of Advent 2021, can we hear God inviting us into a period of waiting? Is waiting always passive or is there something active, a part we can play? What does it mean to wait for the Christ-child when we’ve waited so long for “normal life” to begin again? Is God saying something to us in the waiting?
With all this in mind, Godspace is offering an afternoon’s retreat on 27 November 2021, to allow a small number of people to gather and take time to think, pray and reflect upon their waiting with God. Ann Milton and Sonja Stark and myself will guide us through the afternoon, including prayer, an imaginative meditation on Jacob’s story of waiting and wrestling, and a time for personal reflection. There will be a period of silence in which to walk, pray, write, draw, as people wish. Our hope is that the afternoon will provide refreshment and a chance to prepare for advent with God. Click here for more information and how to book.
Wishing you a deeper experience of advent this year – it’s only 27 days until it begins!