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With the season 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 waiting for a king to be born. This is not just any king, but the one who will show us the way to beauty, and life, and truth. When the Christ child arrives, he does not show up as a full-grown, adult king. Jesus arrives as a fragile, helpless, newborn baby. Christmas reminds of this very fact—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. It’s a whisper worth listening for.

This booklet has been adapted from a variety of resources, but particularly a similar booklet from Grandview Church in Vancouver. Their attention to the contours of this season are inspiring, and support practices that invite us to journey with Jesus throughout the season of advent. I have used this as a starting point for our own parish journey.

This Advent in Valhalla Parish, as we walk through this time of pandemic, displacement, and global uncertainty, we do so watching and waiting for God’s whisper of hope. In the midst of this world, in these times, God invites us in this Advent season to look for signs of the divine breaking into the darkness, guiding us in the ways of hope, peace, joy, and love.