Advent Synchroblog

Andvent candles

I have been asked by Brother Maynard to be a part of an Advent Synchroblog . I am delighted by this opportunity as Advent really is one of my favourite times of year. The idea comes out of Brother Maynard’s book That You Might Believe: Praying Advent with the Gospel of John I plan to blog either out of the scriptures from the gospel of John or from the weekly carols through advent. I will try to get my post up a little early before the beginning of each week because I never blog on Sundays.

I was delighted to see that the carol for this Sunday is O Come O Come Emmanuel which is one of my favourites.  It expresses all that we long for at the beginning of this season.  It also provides the background music for the Advent meditation video that I made last year.  So you might like to watch that again as a preview to the season.

Here are the other bloggers that will be participating in the synchroblog

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The New Conspirators – a more complete profile

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We have just updated the conference website with a complete list of speakers & other interesting information.  I am excited because I think we are bringing together a broader array of innovators in the missional, emerging, monastic and mosaic streams than has been done at any previous conference.

Check it out 

To Pray Without Ceasing

As we move toward Advent I have been thinking a lot about what it means to pray without ceasing – a concept that I have always struggled with and at times felt guilty about.  For most of my Christian life I have thought of prayer as constant intercession, something that gets both exhausting and draining – and that kind of prayer is impossible to do “without ceasing”.

In recent years I have come to another understanding of prayer.  To pray without ceasing means to open our eyes, our ears and our hearts so that we can see the prayers that are already hidden deep within every act of life

  • The prayers of thankfulness for God’s provsion
  • the prayers of praise when we catch a glimpse of God in the beauty of creation
  • the prayers of confession when something strikes deep into our souls and reveals our hidden sins
  • prayers of lament when we do not understand the pain and anguish of our friends
  • prayers of intercession when we grieve over the horrors we read about in the newspaper

Every mundane act of life can be a revelation of our God if our ears are open to hear the whisper of the Spirit who is present in every part of life and in every moment of the day and if our eyes are open to see the wonder of a God who is behind us, before us and inside us.  What do we hear and see?

  • the whisper of a guiding father who leads and instructs us in the ways we should go
  • the whisper of a compassionate, caring mother whose heart aches for us in the midst of our pain
  • the whisper of a god who desires intimacy and closeness of a lover

This new understanding of prayer has also given me a new understanding of what it means to be a disciple.  To be a disciple means recognizing the presence of God in every moment and in every act of life and responding to that presence.  It is hard for us in this modern world driven by busyness and the drive for success to open our hearts to the possibility that we are not meant to be in control but that God is.  It is hard to wait and listen when we are addicted to action heroes who jump into the fray with guns blazing and it is hard to sit and lsten when we think we know the answers.

I am more and more convinced that our answers and God’s are very different from each other. My challenge this Advent season is to take the time to sit and listen and to discover God’s answers that are all around me.

Advent II Homecoming – Let Your Kingdom Come

Our Advent Seed Sampler will be out at the end of the week & our focus this year is on Advent II homecoming.  Part of what we look forward to during Advent is the return of Christ and the coming of God’s kingdom in its fullness – a time when everything will be made new, made whole and restored.  I love this song by Tracy Howe that really captures a sense of anticipation of what that new kingdom will look like.  Spend some time listening to the lyrics and contemplating the images of restoration and renewal for which we all long as we look forward to the coming of Christ.

Explorer sinks

Here is an amazing photo of the ship that struck an iceberg in the Antarctic yesterday.  Sure makes me glad I don’t live on a ship anymore.

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Making Movies, Making Shortbread

This has been quite a week with a high learning curve. When I started receiving requests for my Advent video a couple of weeks ago I was suddenly plunged into the legalities & intricacies of media production. Now I know all about sychronization licenses, ftp files & the difference between NTSC & PAL. I have made new friends in NZ, Britain Canada & the US as we have struggled together to work through my inadequacies. I appreciate everyone’s patience with me and am very grateful to the friends that have allowed me to pester them as I slowly moved forward. It has been a fun journey (yes I do enjoy all this tech stuff).

Now the week is over & I am indulging myself with one of those fun things that always make me feel Christmas is coming – I have just made my first batch of Scottish shortbread using the recipe passed down from my Scottish grandmother. Now she would probably not have made shortbread until New Year but being a little impatient I just could not wait that long & I know that my friends who only come visiting at this time of year, would not wait either.

Memories and traditions are both very important at this time of year & this is one that though not explicitly “spiritual” is one rhythm of life that always gives me a wonderful sense of connectedness – to God and particularly to those who have gone before me. It also provides a very special connection as to my mother who made shortbread every Christmas throughout my childhood & who is now half a world away in Australia.

Maintaining our spirituality is not just about reading the bible & praying it is also about rhythms like this that provide important anchors for our lives. What traditions do that for you at this time of year?

A Short and Easy Method of Prayer

I have just finished reading A Short and Easy Method of Prayer, first written by Madame Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon.  Madame Guyon was imprisoned for 7 years because her prayer style unsettled the established church of the time.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this delightful book which has been a wonderful preparation for the season of Advent.

She starts by reminding us that “Prayer is the application of the heart to God, and the internal exercise of love.”  and ends with the admonition “O ye blind and foolish men, who pride yourselves on science, wisdom, wit and power; how well do you verify what God hath said, ‘His Secrets are hidden from the great and wise , and revealed unto The Little Ones- The Babes!”  The premise of the book is that  “all ought to practice prayer.”  and she gives some wonderful advice on how to accomplish that even if you are uneducated or illiterate.  That may not sound radical to us but in a day and age in which it was usually considered to be the place of the clergy rather than the common person to pray, her advice was quite radical.

She has lots of good advice on meditative prayer that has definitely stood the test of time.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a reflective start tot the Advent season.