The deeper invitation of Advent The season of Advent, this space in the Christian year, invites us to anticipate the coming of Christ. Jan Richardson, in her writings (“Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas”) challenges us to look differently at our intense schedules and attempts at slowing down to contemplate the wonder of this season. She says “perhaps the preparation and expectation to which Advent calls us are not to be found solely in the spaces we set aside during this season… perhaps Advent is what happens in the midst of all this. We enter the heart of the season, the invitation of these weeks, amid the life that is unfolding around us, with its wildness and wonder and upheaval and intensity.”
Or another way to see it is to recognize the interruptions and distractions of daily life as unexpected places where we just might encounter God moving among us. As a covenanted community, the Capital Region Ecumenical Organization enters the advent season wondering how we, together, anticipate Christ’s presence. How do we participate and get ready for this? Yes, we have been preparing. Preparation has included the respect of core values underpinning our relationship together – God is with us, especially as we wrestle with organizational identity and mission.
This process of rethinking who we are and what we do need not be seen as a sign of weakness, but of strength. We recognize that nearly all councils, state and national; faith based service organizations, even denominational structures are in a process of visioning: rethinking their membership, structure, and focus. This is driven, in most cases, by financial crisis, but it needs to happen anyway since the ecclesial landscape has changed so dramatically in recent years. It is a sign of a healthy body when it asks “What new thing is God doing in our community and how can we be part of it”?
CREO is getting ready – consultations have led us to a clear concise mission statement; the CREO Board has taken on the persona of a working Board, birthing a strategic plan that includes structural renovation and visioning that includes conversations with ecumenical and interfaith partners, leading us to new ways of being church together.
“In the midst of this” we find ourselves standing together watching and waiting – not wringing our hands, nor sitting on them, but holding one another’s hands and lifting them up in watchfulness, anticipating God’s presence guiding us into something new. Because we affirm God in Christ is present with and working amongst us, our Advent encounter “in the midst” of all that lies ahead of us can be faced in confidence and without anxiety.
The invitations of the prophet (Zeph. 3:14-20) and the apostle (Phil. 4:4-7) of hope call us to our task as those freed to respond joyfully and mindfully with our collective presence, passion and perseverance.
So just maybe, even in the midst of all this, Christ’s coming will be known to all of us. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4: 4-7