by Katie Pearson
“Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” – The Book of Common Prayer, The Collect for Year C, Third Sunday of Advent
We are well into Advent now. How has this season of preparation touched your soul? Have you even had time to pause and reflect? It’s easy when we are preparing our homes for Christmas to lose sight of the essential practice of purifying our hearts and minds for the Spirit of God to pursue our sanctification. Being busy isn’t a bad thing during this holiest of seasons, but it must not prevent us from turning inward and inviting the Lord to occupy our every thought so that we don’t just think about Christmas, but come to embody the hope and joy we celebrate.
We still have a week of Advent. The Lord is calling us to use this time to open our hearts, declutter our souls and experience the wonder of this holy season. What will it take for you to clear your calendar and make room to respond to the greatest of all invitations?
This year I learned of a monastic practice called statio, which simply means, “the holy pause.” This Latin term is also translated as, “I stand” or “I remain.” The idea is to transition mindfully throughout your day. Whether you are putting down the phone to check email, finishing the dishes to watch television, or leaving church to go to breakfast with your family, be intentional about creating a little gap between activities, just long enough to allow awareness to override reactivity, or perhaps worse, mindlessly rolling into the next thing.
While the concept is simple, the practice is far more challenging. It isn’t natural to consciously stop and pay attention, let alone focus our thoughts on God, become aware of his presence, and even listen for his voice. Our minds are naturally prone to wander, whether our lives are busy or not. We are wired, naturally, as human “doings” more than human “beings,” but this can’t become an excuse to wait until life slows down to prepare a mansion for the living God. Taking a few deep breaths is helpful, as well as focusing on the senses, such as noticing what you see and hear. With practice, however, statio can become habitual, ushering in a whole new relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus stands at the door and knocks. What better time than Advent to put all else aside, fling open the door, and welcome him in?
Lord Jesus, this year I want to reflect you, not just put on a show. Help me pause long enough to hear your knock, and have space in my soul to welcome you in. I don’t want to miss your arrival, the most precious gift and promise ever given. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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