Awaken the sacred child that lives within your spirit. Invite your child-self to reveal your life through the lens of wonder, innocence, and awe… Be ready to step into innovative ways of living and being when the Light returns to the world. Celebrate this holy season as a sacred child of God.
The Way of Belle Coeur (page 306)
The Season of Advent blesses us with the opportunity to enter the Mystery of being fully present to what is preparing to be birthed within us, as we await the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ. We are invited in this season to be especially watchful and attentive. “Be on watch and pray always” Luke 21:36 Later in this entry you will find journaling prompts to explore during your reflective time as we move towards the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
Advent marks the beginning of the Christmas season. The Latin word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” In the fourth and fifth centuries Advent was a prelude to Epiphany and a time for baptism for the new Christians, as a time of welcoming into the Church. Members of the church were called to a period of penance and fasting and some believe that Advent in the early centuries was experienced as a second Lent.
In the sixth century, Rome shifted the focus of Advent from Epiphany to the second coming of Christ. In the ninth century, Pope Nicholas shortened the previous six week period of Advent to four weeks. Sometime in 1500’s the additional focus of Christ’s birth was added to the anticipation of the second coming.
Advent is a season of hope and joy. It is prayerful, celebratory, and contemplative. In this way it is both joyful and reflective. The Advent wreath is a visual prayer form that began in Germany by non-Christians when they lit candles on evergreen boughs in their windows to welcome the light to the darkness in the hope of spring’s return. Eventually German Lutherans adopted the practice in the form of the Advent wreath, a circle of evergreen branches with four candles representing the four weeks of the season. The circle representing God’s unending love, and the candles offer the symbolism of Christ, the light of the world.
The three purple candles represent; hope, peace, and love. Purple is a liturgical color representing the royalty of the House of David. The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday, representing joy. Sometimes a white candle is lit in the center of the wreath on Christmas Day.
There are a variety of Advent calendars available both sacred and secular. The concept is to mark each day during the Advent season as a countdown towards Christmas.
You may wish to create your own advent calendar by using a page of a standard calendar and writing Scripture passages, appropriate to the season, in each space. Keeping an Advent journal is also another way of marking the days towards the coming of Christ.
Journaling through Advent
Advent is an opportunity to deepen our prayer lives in the midst of the busyness of the season. Taking time each day to read Scripture, to pray and reflect, and to journal in response to what we are experiencing as we prepare for Christ’s arrival, deepens the meaning of this holy and mysterious time of year.
You may wish to begin a special journal to record your reflections, insights, and even your nightly dreams during this holy time. Long evenings and the late arrival of daylight provide opportunities to light candles and to embrace the deep velvet Mystery that provides the portal to Christmas. Make a collage reflecting your interpretation of the beauty and richness of the Christmas story and the hope that it brings.
May this season of anticipation open new pathways in our hearts as we await the return of the Light!
Here are a few suggested journal prompts to explore:
1) What do I feel gestating within me in the way of creative/spiritual new life preparing to be born?
2) How might I nurture Christ’s presence….that which is being prepared within me?
3) Are there new ways I am being called to serve Christ as his heart and hands in the world?
4) How does the culture distract me from being fully present to God and the work I am called to?
5) What am I holding onto that no longer serves the Highest Good?
6) What would it feel like to let go of what no longer is serving me? What might I choose to fill the empty space created when I let go?
7) How can I prepare a avenue for Christ to enter me in a new way?
8) What is stirring in me as I pray today?
9) Emmanuel means “God is with us.” How do I experience this in my life?
10) When I think of Christmas I feel….
11) In those times when I have said, “Yes!” to God, I experienced…..
12) Who do I need to reach out to this holiday season in forgiveness and love?
13) How do I experience Christ’s Peace?
14) When I think of joy I think of……..
15) Darkness takes me to……
16) With the return of the Light I feel…….