The Congregation at Duke University Chapel


photo of Andrew

On Sunday, I caught myself telling a lie.

In reminding our Youth Group that Advent is a week shorter this year because Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, I said it was a gift that Advent is only 3 weeks instead of 4.

What’s the lie you ask? My liturgical time-keeping was correct; the notion that having a shorter Advent is somehow a blessing or an escape from another week before Christmas is what I got wrong.

The season of Advent is a gift from God, and it is the gift of a season to slow down, to wait, and to watch. It is the gift of being able to stop. The impatience of wishing this season of patience would be over one week sooner—that says more about me, and perhaps about you, than it says about Advent.

It is hard for us to stop. It can be a terrifying thing to give up our doing in favor of our being, to consciously choose stillness over activity, to let ourselves be healed of the dis-ease of being busy long enough to see what God is doing.

To stop like this is rarely easy, and yet as Isaiah reminds us , we will miss the chance to meet the author of justice, to hear the voice of peace calling out to us if we do not do the hard work of stopping our work.

Like so much of our life in God, this radical season of stopping is something we cannot do alone. So take some time during this Advent season, and read this article from Duke’s Omid Safi, which Young Adults will be discussing at our Pub Theology gathering on December 14. Or take a few moments in the evening to pause and reflect on God’s presence in your day, using this prayer our Youth Group is using for the season of Advent. Or maybe make the prayer below yours this Advent season, offering yourself to what God will give during this season of stop.

However you decide to mark this Advent season, however you summon the strength to stop, know that you are not alone. We are in this together. And when you see me next, why not invite me to pause and talk a while. We can catch ourselves telling each other the truth: that Advent is a season for stopping.

Journeying with you,

An Advent prayer :
God, grant me the grace and space to slow myself, to wait and notice, that my heart and my hands would be ready to receive what you are offering. Amen.