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With the beginning of Advent, the church year starts anew. Advent is a time that invites us to prepare ourselves for the beauty and the mystery of the Christmas season. There is deep and ancient wisdom to intentionally marking these days of waning light that lead to Christ’s birth. 

As the days grow ever shorter, our lives draw ever more inward. As the earth grows colder, we surround ourselves with those things that bring warmth and comfort. We draw closer together, as we hold out hope for new light and life made noticeable by the lengthening days after the winter solstice.

In Advent, we journey together through the valley of shadows preparing our hearts, our lives, our community, and the world for the birth of the one who will show us into the way of peace. As Mary’s song, the magnificat, reminds us, the way of peace is revolutionary. God’s way of love casts down the proud and the mighty, all the while elevating and centering those who we have cast to the side. 

All of this means that Jesus’ arrival doesn’t rehearse the same old script of power-hungry leadership, but rather invites us to participate in God’s abundant dream for the world. This is a dream of beauty and life that travels the narrow road of truth, justice, and reconciliation. Jesus does not show up as we—or the world—expect. He arrives as a fragile, helpless, newborn baby. He greets us in vulnerability, inviting us to greet him in the same way. 

Christmas reminds that even the God of the Universe arrives amongst us seeking relationship, care, and community. When Jesus arrives on Christmas in what we Christians call the incarnation—the birth of God amongst us—it is not with a triumphal shout, but a hopeful whisper. 

This Advent in Valhalla Parish, as we journey through the challenges and joys of this season of life, we do so watching and waiting expectantly for God’s whisper of hope. As we prepare our hearts, homes, and communities, may we listen for God’s audacious whisper inviting us to look for (and to become!) signs of divine love breaking into the darkness, leading us into the way of hope, peace, joy, and love.

This year, as last, our parish community has come together to create a number of resources for Advent. These resources include an Advent at Home booklet (you can download it at the bottom of this page), activities taking place at St. David's, as well as an ever-evolving playlist of advent songs that you will find below.

None of this is meant to be onerous or a burden, but rather to provide tools for individuals and households who wish to engage in focused times of prayer and reflection in Advent. 

If something works for you, use it! If it doesn’t, put it aside. Consider how these practices might fit into your rhythm of life and prayer, and use them to help focus your time. If you develop your own practices, consider sharing these gifts with the wider community.

In Advent Hope, 

Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Valhalla Parish Missioner