Thursday, November 29, 2018

Light the Advent Candle One, Now the Waiting Has Begun


Happy New Year!

This weekend we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent which begins our new liturgical year.  As you walk into the Church this weekend you will notice a change.  Gone is the green symbolizing the growth that takes place in our lives during ordinary time and in its place stands the purple of repentance and humility.  We are living in darkness as we wait for the Light of the World to come into our hearts and lives on Christmas morning. 

Like many families, our family has the tradition of lighting the candles on the Advent wreath before dinner each night during Advent.  Before we light the candles, we turn off all of the lights in the house, so the only light present during our prayer is the light that illuminates from the wreath.  This week, the light will be dim, one small flame from a single candle, a mere flicker in the darkness, showing us how far we are from Christ. But as we get closer and closer to Christmas morning, that light grows and soon the light from the four candles will fill the room, telling us that the Lord is near.

At the end of the prayer we sing the verse of the week and refrain from the Advent Song.  This week, this will be our song to end our prayer - 

Light the Advent candle, one:
Now the waiting has begun;
we have started on our way,
time to think of Christmas day.


Refrain
Candle, candle, burning bright,
shining in the cold winter night;
candle, candle, burning bright,
fill our hearts with Christmas light.



Part of my spiritual preparation this Advent will involve spending more time in prayer, meditating on the words of Jesus in Scripture, using a centering prayer known as Lectio Divina.  If you aren’t familir with Lectio Divina, there are four steps, the 4 R’s – reading, reflection, response and rest. During the first step, reading, you read the scripture passage slowly, sometimes multiple times and let the words of scripture sink into your hearts.  During the second step you reflect on the passage, was there a word or phrase that stuck out to you or resonated in your heart?  Step three, response, we let our hearts speak back to God and finally we rest and let go of everything in our hearts and minds and just be in the presence of the Word of God.

This week as I was praying my Lectio Divina I was focusing on this week’s gospel, Luke 21:25-28, 34-36, and the phrase “beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life” struck me and continued to speak to me as I listened and reflected.  Working retail the last 3 years, I had grown to dislike the holidays.  Christmas meant angry customers, destroyed stores, and long hours away from family and loved ones.  Depending on the shifts I worked, I could go 3 or 4 days without seeing my children while they were awake.  I was consumed by the anxieties of life and grew to dislike everything that we associated with Christmas.

But as I sit and reflect, what I was really doing was forgetting to celebrate Advent.  Life was overtaken by Christmas and the commercial aspects of it, I forgot about the real reason for Christmas, the birth of our Savior.  The trees, the lights (Graham, my 2 year old, is mesmerized by every Christmas light he sees), the gifts, the parties are all great and awesome, but as you are preparing for those things, don’t forget to also celebrate Advent. Prepare your heart for the light of Christ, because without it, we will continue to live in darkness and be consumed by the anxieties of our daily life. 

Take some time this Advent season to sit in the darkness and let the light of the coming Christ fill your life. 

Blessings this Advent season,

Matthew Bensman


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