Advent and the Christian New Year. The church season called Advent begins today as the appointed time for Christian households to mark the beginning of the Church Year. Just as parents await new life in the birth of a child, we prepare with great expectation for the anniversary birth of “God with us” at Christmas. Our prayers, lessons, hymns, anthems, formation, outreach opportunities and more focus on the rich meaning of this season. Each invites us to keep awake so that we might recognize the Messiah. Ultimately, this period on the Church calendar challenges us to slow down, while everything around us seems to speed up.
Advent reminds me of a poem located on the wall of an entrance into St. Peter’s Church, Oxford (Mississippi). May the words of author Wilfred A. Peterson bless our season:
Slow me down, Lord. Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal march of time. Give me amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the eternal hills. Break the tension of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations, of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines of a good book. Slow me down, Lord and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life’s enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.
– The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector