This will be Advent Preparation Sunday, a day we take to reflect on the coming season of Advent to form intentions about the experience we want to have. Intentionality is more important this year than ever because the spiritual benefits Advent offers are exactly what we need in a rapidly deteriorating and increasingly challenging world. We need what it offers for both our personal and communal well being.
What are the benefits? Hope. Peace. Joy. Love. Light. The birth of Christ into our hearts and into the world, this time, we pray, in a way that the world will heed and make his laws of love the measure of all our human laws and ways, putting an end to a way of life that has proven unsustainable and providing a solution to poverty, to racism, to the refugee crisis, to oppressive, world-destroying greed, to mass extinction and to the erosion of freedom and democracy.
Advent comes in the northern hemisphere at the darkest time of the year, a time conducive to both contemplation and compassion. Contemplation connects us to our innermost truth and to the comfort, guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, and compassion leads us to hear the cries of all who are suffering on the earth and the earth itself.
We have to be intentional about our spiritual life during December or we will be swept away in the overwhelming materialistic, surface flow of the holiday season and miss the benefits we need. We have to decide now to block out time for increased spiritual practice and acts of compassion.
Advent Preparation Sunday reminds us every year of the beauty and richness of the season, but this year we will go farther–we will be observing it more as a fifth Sunday of Advent because we need its hope, peace, joy, love and light so much right now.
We will be reading a sampling of Advent scriptures and singing a sampling of Advent carols. The central focus of the service will be on the quintessential Advent carol, O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
We will be blessed to have Laila Reimanis playing flute and Annemieke McLane on the piano performing the first movement of J. S. Bach’s Magnificat.