Thursday, 30 November 2017

An Alternative Advent Blessing

I met two groups of people yesterday and, on both occasions, we ended up talking (and despairing) about the challenges of the next four weeks and the fraught planning of our family Christmas arrangements.

Don’t get me wrong, we normally have a really good time when it arrives, it’s the ‘build up’ that freaks me out.  I find it so oppressive.

In that respect I love the balance that a Church Advent brings.  We don’t sing carols until the week before Christmas and we linger with the rather stern lectionary themes rather than rushing into Christmas four weeks early.

So here’s an alternative Advent Blessing for those of us who find this one of the most challenging seasons of the year:

May God go with you as we enter into the craziness of these next four weeks.

May he gives us wisdom as we try to please too many friends and relatives as we make our arrangements.

May he stop us from being grumpy whenever we hear the song: It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

May he grant us the grace to be thankful for the twentieth mince pie and may we eat it as if it was our first and we actually liked them!

May he enter into this Advent so that we think deeply about its themes of judgement, the prophets, John the Baptist and Mary.

May we catch a glimpse of the wonder of light piercing the darkness and reflect on that message of hope that truly brings transformation into our lives.

May God turn our Advent from a shopping fest into a prayerful fast – as we spend more time contemplating and sitting still rather than rushing around doing too much, and doing it badly.

And when all our good intentions get swallowed up in other people’s agendas – may we still be surprised by the touch of God upon our lives during the next four weeks.

And remind us, O Lord, that it wasn’t so very different the first time round: relations who couldn’t give Joseph a bed for the night, a town as crowded as Oxford Street with census visitors, and plans that  went so wrong that come the moment it was an emergency delivery in a stable.

So, perhaps the madness of this season isn’t so far from the truth of it all anyway!

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