I complained to a friend about how fast the year was spinning, and he replied, “Time is covered in grease. It's the part if Einstein's theory of relativity that we were never told. But it is covered in grease. It just slips away from you faster and faster.” (Roddy Hamilton)
Advent is “around the corner.” In my part of the world, Adelaide, South Australia, the reminder is breathtaking. The flowering Jacaranda trees that paint the streetscapes and “skyscapes” with the blue-purple Advent colour cry out that Christmas is close! While in the Northern Hemisphere Advent heralds longer nights and colder days, in the Southern Hemisphere we welcome longer and warmer days. This is the season of “high hopes.”
While I try to find my balance in this time covered in grease, Lara Bozabalian’s riddle in “Finding a Path” (page 6 of SeasonsFUSION) reminds me, and us, of the importance to slow down, pay attention. She says, “As a new teacher, a headmaster noticed my exhaustion at the end of the day and offered ‘rhythm replaces strength’ as a riddle for me to savour.”
The Season of Advent is a time of expectant waiting. SeasonsFUSION offers a wealth of material, which can be used in a variety ways or settings as we prepare and wait to celebrate God’s love birthed among us.
Why not begin with an all age gathering, not just for your regular attendees but as an opportunity to connect those inside the church with those who have little or no connection with regular Sunday worship. To save you time and energy, a full program is on pages 12-17.
In this busy time of the year, it is important to stay connected, to build community within and beyond the group that gathers for worship, to nurture church leadership and support the spiritual lives of individuals and families at home.
In “Living the Season of Advent” on pages 185-188 you will find many ideas to adapt for your community and your way of being church. “Living the Seasons” is also provided as a word file on the Advent, Christmas, Epiphany Data CD, which allows you to cut and paste and print in bulletins, or email to people on your email list.
For those who would appreciate material in booklet form, for use at home, we are working on material that has been excerpted and formatted ready for printing. It will be available for download in the Library & Action Zone of the Seasons website in the next couple of days.
The challenge in this busy secular and church time of the year is finding time and an environment that invites us to pause for reflection. You can help people live into the contemplative spirit of Advent by providing space and resources within your church. But how to do that?
Each week in Advent we are encouraged to set a space in our church buildings as places for contemplation where all are invited to stay for as long as they wish, and use the statements provided each week for individual reflection. Contemplative corner guides are on pages 43, 55, 67, and 79.
Finally, for a Christmas pageant that is stress-free, you will be inspired by the pageant created by Winfield United Church of Canada. Winfield has offered a complete script, along with slides of the artwork created by people of all ages from that congregation. However, they encourage us to create our own pageants, based on their story and experience, by inviting children, youth and adults to interpret scenes from the Christmas story and creating our own art and slide show presentations.
>> Learn more about the Advent, Christmas, Epiphany FUSION development process at Winfield United Church in this interview
“This man held his orange carefully, inhaled its aroma, peeled the orange carefully and completely removed every last bit of stringy pith inside. He separated each segment of the orange and placed them end-to-end in a row on the table in front of him. Forming a cup with his hands he lifted the orange to his mouth savouring every morsel as he chewed slowly, wasting not a drop of juice.”
~ From “The Gift of an Orange” by Rev. Dr. Ruth Wright, page 7 SeasonsFUSION, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany
May this be our Advent experience.