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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 awaiting the birth of a king. 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 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 walk through this time of pandemic, truth telling, displacement, climate crisis, 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 shows up with an audacious whisper, inviting us to look for signs of the divine breaking into the darkness, guiding us in the ways 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, 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