About Advent

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Today, Saturday, the day before Advent begins, I’ll make our Advent wreath for the chapel, put on the new, ox-blood colored altar cloth, make a smaller decoration for our common table with four votive lights, and here at St. Aidan’s open the box with the Advent calendars, and play my Handel’s Messiah CD’s. Loudly.

Jesse's Dream and Tree, English Miniaturist, 1140's

I’m still a bit “high” from our celebration of Thanksgiving at the new convent in the city up at 150th and Convent Avenue. We got a tour, starting with the roof garden overlooking the neighborhood, a slice of mid-town and the Chrysler Building, and nearby City College. During the Eucharist, when one sister cried, I broke down, but fortunately pulled myself together again – I was the preacher and celebrant. How happy to be all together! And in such a gorgeous space, designed and built not for some other purpose, but for prayer and convent life surrounding and upholding a life of prayer.

Up here at the farm we’re having a “play day” until Vespers tonight, the first one since – when? Surely not since green things started coming up from the ground in early spring. But the gardens are “put to bed” and we enter “dream time”.  Just in time for Advent.

About Advent
During the four weeks of Advent, the lectionary texts guide Christians psychologically through the process necessary to take in the Uncreated Light represented by Christmas. Advent begins in apocalypse; confusion and chaos, with portents in the sky and sudden, swift judgment. Once we’re thoroughly frightened, we find ourselves in a desert of loneliness, silence, desolation, danger, of wild beasts and demons. We’re shocked into an intense awareness of vulnerability, of sins, of estrangement from God and neighbor. But just as we find ourself paralyzed in that landscape, the figure of John the Baptist comes toward us, inviting us to the river for healing, for baptism for the remission of sins, for repentance, for direction. The middle two weeks of Advent are devoted to the presence of John. And we need them.

But as time leans upon us, Christmas coming closer, in the last week the church gives us the figures of Mary, Elizabeth, and Joseph. We encounter the angelic messenger, asking us to carry and bear the Prince of Compassion within our own souls.  We struggle to say ‘yes’ knowing the darkness to come if we do so. And when we say “yes,” Christmas comes in the middle of the night, in Love so vulnerable, helpless, and far from home, there is nothing we can do but give our lives over to the care and protection and maturation of this Love at the heart of our being.

Have a full, blessed, deep Advent. -Suzanne

The Last Judgment, Jean Cousin the Younger, 1585

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3 Responses to “About Advent”

  1. claire Says:

    And when we say ‘yes,’ … Ah I am looking forward to walking this Advent with you. Your new convent sounds like a wonderful place. A roof garden, oh!!!

    Blessings on you as well.

  2. Phil Ewing Says:

    This is a really lovely post and encompasses the “psychology ” of the Advent journey really well. Thank you. I wish someone would make a modern film about John The Baptistas he has always intrigued me .
    Blessings for Advent and hope you get a chance to pop by for a visit to my Blog too !!

    • ammaguthrie Says:

      I think a thoughtful movie about JB would be astounding. I’ve never liked the way he was portrayed in any movie I’ve ever seen. He’s quite complex… Thank you for your comment!

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