Dec. 3, 2018.

By Assistant Minister Rev. Sarah Caine.

Yesterday marked the first day of Hanukkah as well as the first day of Advent this year. One, the celebration of a miracle and a way to visually say “still here, still worshipping.” The other, anticipating a miracle amid the feeling that the world is ending. I have celebrated both of these holidays at different points in my life. Recently, Advent has been important to me – even as someone who doesn’t identify with Jesus as the sole source of salvation.

Advent was introduced to me in seminary, by a Catholic woman priest. Now, I make a point of having candles to light and readings on hand. Advent is a time to slow down and inventory the pieces of me that aid or distance me from the spark of the divine within. It’s an opportunity to let go of habits that do not serve me or the greater good while remembering that there is a hope beyond what I can comprehend.

My current go-to authors for reflections at this time of year are Jan Richardson and Richard Rohr – contemplative Christians who have a way with words that draws me out of the hectic pace of the day and into a moment of re-connecting. I take their Advent books and read the daily reflection. Sometimes, I read the portion of the Christian bible those who follow the Christian Lectionary* are reading – connecting with traditions beyond my own and finding wisdom in words from people who lived and struggled and celebrated so many years ago.

I invite you to find stillness in this season before Yule, before Christmas. A stillness that can help you stay anchored while the pace of the holidays beckons you to do more and experience more. Rest in this time of the threshold, knowing there is hope beyond what you can comprehend, that you are a part of it and you have the choice to let go of that which does not serve you.

Blessing the Door First
By Jan Richardson, from “Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas”

let us say
a blessing
upon all who have
entered here before

You can see the sign
of their passage
by the worn place
where their hand rested
on the doorframe
as they walked through,
the smooth sill
of the threshold
where they crossed.

Press your ear
to the door
for a moment before
you enter

and you will hear
their voices murmuring
words you cannot
quite make out
but know
are full of welcome.

On the other side
these ones who wait
— for you,
if you do not
know by now—
understand what
a blessing can do

how it appears like
nothing you expected

how it arrives as
outrageous invitation,

how it takes the form
of angel
or dream;

how it comes
in words like
How can this be?
lifted up the lowly;

how it sounds like
in the wilderness
prepare the way.

Those who wait
for you know
how the mark of
a true blessing
is that it will take you
where you did not
think to go.

Once through this door
there will be more:
more doors
more blessings
more who watch and
wait for you

but here
at this door of beginning
the blessing cannot
be said without you.

So lay your palm
against the frame
that those before you

place your feet
where others paused
in this entryway.

Say the thing that
you most need
and the door will
open wide.

And by this word
the door is blessed
and by this word
the blessing is begun
from which
door by door
all the rest
will come.

*A lectionary is a book or listing of scripture readings appointed for Christian or Judaic worship on a given day or occasion.