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Advent: God With Us

Michael Munson

In this busy season we want to encourage you to slow down and create space to focus on the reality that God is with us. In this article, Michael Munson unpacks four simple steps that can help us to meditate on this truth.

What is advent? Is it just lighting some candles or eating bits of chocolate from the Tesco calendars? Don’t get me wrong, those things are good, I love chocolate. However those things are merely tools, rituals, that help us enter into the season of Advent. 

You see, advent is a season of preparation. Where we create these rituals, and spaces in our lives to help us celebrate the reality, the astounding reality, that an infinite God has left all power and joined his creation. We are getting ready, we are anticipating Immanuel, Christ with us. 

This advent we wanted to help all of us create some space, to focus our; minds, emotions, spirits on this reality. An opportunity to step outside of the hustle and bustle of this season, which isn’t all bad, but can easily create anxiety, worry and sadness as it arrests our attention away from the astounding truth of God with us. 

So here is an easy set of steps which can be used at any time of the day, possibly multiple times a day to put our minds back to the realisation that God is with us, and how extraordinary that is. 

Step 1: Stop

  • Wherever you are, just stop for a moment. Close your eyes for just a few extra seconds. Maybe you need to sit, maybe you need to find a space away from the computer or the TV, either way just pause what you are doing. Stop the movement of your body. 

Step 2: Breathe

  • This goes hand in hand with stopping. When we stop our physical bodies it can feel as if our emotions or our minds go racing. Actually they are probably always going that fast we are just now noticing. 
  • Now breathe, deeply in, and slowly out. Start to draw your mind, your imagination towards Jesus. Maybe thinking about the story of his birth, or the promise of him in Isaiah, or the angel’s visit to Mary. It could be something from your own life, a memory of God being with you. 
  • Breathe deeply in, and slowly out. Keep doing this throughout as you think of it. 

Step 3: Listen

  • Always the hardest part. You’ve stopped your body, you are slowing down your emotions with your breathing, your mind might be slowing too. Though this is a time to listen, a prayer may rise to your lips. It might start as a feeling. Put words to it. Keep it simple, one sentence if you can. 
  • Pray it in your heart, or out loud up to you. Just once, then listen. 
  • If you get distracted, pray it again, and stop, breathe, listen. 

Step 4: Rest

  • You have heard from God. It might be a fun memory of Christmases past. It might be a hope for the future. It could be a song lyric on your mind, or a reassurance of life. But rest assured it will be a way that you can understand. Sometimes we need practice noticing his voice, and it may take doing this a handful of times to realise you are hearing God. 
  • Either way, rest. Breathe again, you can point prayers of thanks back to God if you’d like. Maybe you just want to smile and stare out the window and look at his creation in gratitude. It’s up to you. But give yourself just a bit longer than you feel is necessary to rest. 

My friends, that is it. Now you may be doing this in the silent solitude of your home. You may be trying to do this in the frenzied chaos of your lovely children or somewhere in between. There is grace to stop, breathe, listen and rest in our Lord, as he is Immanuel, God with us, no matter the atmosphere we find ourselves in. So do not have preconceived notions on how this should look, or how it should feel. The whole action itself, is a prayer, it is a consecration of our time and space. Saying, “Prepare me Lord, Spirit of God ready my whole being for the glorious gift of the Christ child and the reason we celebrate. That though there is darkness and silence at times, the light of life is coming and in truth he is here.”

If you are looking for more resources during advent, last year we released weekly advent videos with some spiritual exercises to help you journey through the season. We will be re-sharing those across social media and they are available for you to use however is helpful to you.

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