Advent 2015: Intro and ways to engage

Advent is a season of expectation.  As the days get shorter and night's darkness consumes more and more hours, we reflect on the urgent need for light in our world.  We confess the areas of our lives and our world that seem hopeless, peace-less, joyless, and loveless.  In the process of this reflection, we sense something coming.  Up ahead, in the distance we can see the light of Christ getting closer. 

In Christ the darkness and suffering of our world is transformed by the overwhelming brightness of that babe in a manger, that newborn in a feeding trough, God with us.

The word advent derives from Latin and means "coming".  For Christians around the world and over the centuries, this time of the year has a little bit of extra significance.   It's a season of hope and faith as we prepare to celebrate the most provocative birth in all of history, the birth of a scandalously conceived Middle Eastern Jew who would turn the world upside down. 

As you go about your days in the weeks ahead would you take some time to ponder the significance of this season?  Would you notice the darkness in our world and in our lives, and spend some time praying for God With Us to break in with the light of Christ?   In the midst of the hustle and bustle, maybe you can find some time to pause and reflect on the Christ story once more, and as you do- listen for the voice of God speaking into your spirit. 

For the next few weeks at Oak Life, we'll be spending a small part of our Sunday gatherings lighting the advent candles and reflecting on the "I am" statements of Christ as we prepare together to celebrate the Light of the World's humble and revolutionary entry into history.   Also, in what has become an Oak Life tradition, we'll be gathering to sing some songs by candlelight the Sunday evening before Christmas.  (Sunday Dec 20, 5:30pm)

If you'd like to spend some extra time in prayer or reflection, here are a couple ideas- feel free to combine them or add more in the comments:

1) Spend some time reading the gospels again, especially the birth narratives.
2) Pray over the news.  Part of Advent is noticing our need for a savior.  As you watch or read the news pray for God's mercy over our world.
3) Carve our some time of silence / solitude.  Maybe for just 5 minutes a day you can pause and sit in silence.  Sometimes it's helpful to have a written out prayer to help focus.  Try the Lords Prayer or the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."  Another good one is the Serenity Prayer.
4) Light a candle.  It might be helpful to light a candle daily or once a week as a reminder of Christ's light and a way to focus and meditate.
5) Be generous.  Find a way to give back a little more. 
6) Search online for Advent Devotionals.  There are literally thousands out there, so go crazy!  Here is one for starters:
7) Listen to some Christmas hymns: What child is this, Oh Come Immanuel, Oh Night Divine, etc.