As I read today’s reflection from Nouwen, I had to chuckle. He tells of sermons saying that the days before Christmas should be days of deep prayer and preparation. I suspect the preacher didn’t quite have my Advent in mind.
I’ve been concerned with the priesting and first presidency of a dear friend – so have missed two Sundays in the Benefice to travel to the Midlands to be with her for those events. And they have been filled with prayer and praise, most of it entirely unChristmassy. A member of my wider family has had a knee replacement – which was fine until she fell badly the day after, and so she has become quite ill. Much prayer, mostly not Christmassy (other than she understandably wants to be home for Christmas). On the world stage, events in Connecticut have led to prayers worldwide – not at all Christmassy, except for praying for those whose Christmases will never be the same again. In this benefice, we have been praying for ourselves and our preparations, that all who come to church will be touched by God’s love. But our deepest prayer may well have been over the sick photocopier, and for the repair person mending it. It wasn’t the longest, but three people united in heartfelt petition. I suppose the urgency was Christmas related.
Nouwen suggests we should distinguish between the important and the urgent. Sound advice for anyone. My personal preparation is important – both the practical and the spiritual. I maintain that those other things I have been doing are important too – that there is prayer and a spirit of preparation, and even penitence, in all of them.
Setting aside time for ourselves is vital. I’m not sure I can claim to be purified yet as Peter says…
“Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:22-23)
We are here as human beings, being. Some of us are called to be, some of us find our being in our doing. My spiritual preparation this Advent has involved some time for me to cuddle with God my Father. But it mostly hasn’t. It’s mostly involved the practical stuff. I trust that Peter’s words are true. But I don’t have spare days to spend sitting thinking and praying about that very often. What I do have is days of prayerfully doing, days where prayer is the bedrock and everything else sits atop, founded on that prayer. And the deepest prayers I pray are usually the shortest. I hope God doesn’t mind.
I’ve stolen the following from Pam……
Also blogging on the #adventbookclub are: