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Advent Reflections

by Father Ray Hess

making spirits brightAdvent is here again! This is a season with delights and frustrations for me. Once Advent begins, it seems to fly by so quickly!  Just when I’m getting into the season, it’s over.

Spiritual life is full of paradoxes, and Advent has lots of them.  A paradox is two things which do not seem to fit together, but they do.  One example is the reality that we have free will, and yet are guided by God. These two things – free will and God’s guidance – don’t seem to fit together, but they do. Advent has many paradoxes. This is a season for quiet and reflection, but it is hectic and full.  It is a time for families to be together, but often also a time of sadness because of illness or death or broken relationships.  Advent is a season to celebrate God’s coming among us in Jesus’ birth, and yet a season of longing and expectation for Jesus to return to bring in God’s kingdom in fullness.

Personally, I struggle in Advent to be a part of the preparations and events of the holidays

– getting gifts, wrapping them, and sending them to family, doing our Christmas Letter and sending out our Christmas cards with the letter, decorating the house, and being with family.  I have often left way too much of that to my wife Deborah.  My Advent commitment this year is to participate more with Deb in these things.  My challenge is to balance these personal things with my activities as a priest in this season.

I encourage us all to carve out times for quiet and prayer in Advent.  If possible, go to our Capital Deanery Advent retreat day at Faith Church, Cameron Park on Saturday afternoon December 14th (see announcement about this in this newsletter).  It can be very good for our souls to make time to sit still and be open to God’s presence, or to take a quiet walk, or listen to good music.  Advent is also a season to have quality time with family and friends – not hectic time running around in stores, but quality time being together and enjoying one another.

I look forward to being with you in my first Advent and Christmas seasons at St. George’s.  I wish us all God’s blessings in this hectic, restful, joyous, bittersweet, and wonderful time of year!

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