Advent Offers Opportunity for Reflection

From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Perspectives:

"So what is Advent? The Advent season starts four Sundays before Christmas and lasts until Christmas Eve. Advent literally means 'coming.' It is a season for spiritually preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ into our lives. It is a spiritual season similar to Lent, although it is intended to be more joyous and less somber.

Like Lent, it is a season of spiritual discipline and centering intended to spiritually, psychologically and physically prepare us for the joy of Christmas (just as the fasting of Lent prepares us for the joy of Easter).

Advent is meant to be a season in which prayer, reflection, prioritizing and spiritual practices should take precedence. Unfortunately, nowadays we're not all that into spiritual preparation if it means sacrifice and discipline. We would much rather celebrate. We ignore Advent...

Advent can be an antidote for the stress of the season. Its guidance to us counters the stress of a consumer culture. The season of Advent encourages Christians and non-Christians alike to spend the season before Christmas preparing by centering and prioritizing, by asking the question, "What really matters?" Christians should take time during Advent to develop an Advent discipline: a discipline of prayer, reflection, self-examination and reinvigoration of our faith.

Non-Christians and nominal Christians can take advantage of the season, too. Many are already caught up in the stress of the Christmas season. They might as well take advantage of the balm of the Advent season and its guidance to slow down and reflect on life and how it can be lived in healthier ways. For both Christians and non-Christians, an emphasis on Advent can bring a corrective to this time of year allowing us to become more centered, grounded, calmer and healthier.

So listen for the call of Advent: Don't be in too much of a rush to get to Christmas. Take time for Advent. Take time to center and to prepare for what is to come."