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God’s Silence

by the Rev. Ray Hess

advent wordsHere we are in Advent again! Since Deb and I were away in Australia and New Zealand for a month this fall, I feel that Advent has come early. How can it be Advent already?

Every year, I have the sense that Advent is a multiple personality season. One personality of Advent is the extroverted, busy, active season going on all around us. You don’t have to look much to find this personality; it’s in the stores, on the radio stations, on all the media. In this world, Christmas Season has already started and continues until Christmas Day, and then abruptly stops. There is nothing wrong with this personality of Advent. It can be energizing and fun.

But there is another personality in Advent. This is the quiet, reflective side of Advent. Our Church Year and liturgy focus on this more introverted personality of the season. This aspect of Advent is harder to see and challenging to observe. If you are a very extroverted person who hates being quiet, this personality of Advent can be very challenging! I think that there is great value in letting this aspect of Advent be part of our lives. It can be difficult to make some quiet time for reflection or prayer, but it is so helpful to let God speak to us in the silence.

I recently saw an excellent meditation about this reflective side of Advent by the Episcopal author Frederick Buechner, and I include it here.

In the silence of a midwinter dusk there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart.

The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment ~Frederick Buechner.

I pray that we all will find times to be still and open to the quiet presence of God this Advent, and I wish everyone the joy and peace of Christ this Christmas!


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