By Rev. Mary Farmer
December and the season of Advent mark the beginning of the new church year.
Traditionally it’s the time to re-immerse ourselves in Jesus’ story. It’s a time of joyful waiting, anticipation and preparation to experience the birth of Christ anew, as we are once again experience beginning of the story.
We have spent much of the last year ‘waiting’, not with joy and anticipation, but with fear and uncertainty. Whether or not we like it, we live in a new way of being and doing. This is uncharted territory, not the comfortable and familiar changing of the church seasons that we look forward to.
As people of prayer, both corporate and personal, Anglicans have a strong and enduring connection to Jesus through prayer. Especially in 2020, as all around us seems to be in chaos and the future uncertain, we need that tether and foundation more than ever.
One of the blessings of these pandemic times is that busyness has been nudged aside, replaced with lots of time to just be. With less busyness comes more space in our lives to explore practices, like prayer, that have been crowded out by the seemingly never-ending to-do list.
Advent 2020 is an opportunity to begin to work toward becoming a ‘new church’ in the light of Bishop Todd’s charge to Synod, expanding something with which we are already familiar. One way to do that is for you and I to try new-to-us ways to prepare our hearts and lives for the blessing we receive through the birth of Jesus. One way to do that is through our prayer life.
Perhaps this is the time to try a different prayer practice. There are many ways to engage in daily prayer, with the BCP and BAS offering a template and prayers. You might consider exploring contemplative prayer as a way to learn to be in God’s presence. A prayer inventory might appeal to you, as a resource to change and grow in relationship with God. Lectio Divina, repeated reading of a passage of scripture to see what catches your attention is an option. Daily Advent words and readings are available through many organizations to give focus to your day’s thoughts. Perhaps the most challenging thing about prayer is bringing our whole self to sit quietly in God’s presence and listen for what God is saying to us.
The Anglican Fellowship of Prayer (Canada) has many resources available on the website. Many congregations have an AFP representative who is willing to help access resources and explore opportunities to grow in our individual prayer lives as we wait. Though larger gatherings have been postponed for the time being, the Bishops Prayer Conference and Fall Gathering organized by AFP Huron are excellent ways to meet others and expand your prayer life.
Whatever form it takes, may your time of preparation for the birth of Christ in Advent 2020 be steeped in prayer and open your heart and mind to see what God is doing to make all things new, right here and right now. AMEN
Rev. Mary Farmer is an AFP Huron executive member and the rector of Trinity, Bayfield and the Parish of the Holy Spirit.