Reflections on Advent and CWOW’s Advent Prayer Retreat
By Sharon Henthorn-Iwane
Advent is the four week season before Christmas, part of the liturgical year established by Early Church Leaders to shape the life of the Christian Church. The word “advent,” comes from the Latin adventus which means “coming.” This season is a time of preparation, contemplation and prayer focused on the three “comings” of Jesus in our lives. First, we evaluate our lives in the light of Christ’s second coming. Next, we become more aware of His daily engagement and current entering into our lives through His Holy Spirit. And, toward the end of the season we turn our attention to Christ’s coming as a baby culminating in our Christmas celebration. Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, anticipation, repentance, waiting, preparation, joy, love and longing. We pray “Come, Lord Jesus, Come!”
But in the United States, the American pattern of busyness in the weeks leading up to Christmas can easily drown out the voice of God. It can disrupt a pattern of holiness that we as Christians are seeking to establish. Though I grew up with Advent practices, those weeks before Christmas were more secular than I wanted to admit with too much of my energy and time focused on shopping, wrapping, cooking and anxiety when life got in the way and I couldn’t get it all done.
Over the years, I have been deepening my following of the church calendar and it has been very healthy and growth-producing in my discipleship. There is a rhythm that God establishes for me that runs deeper than the erratic ups and downs of life on the surface. God has been transforming Advent into a deeply spiritual time for me, putting the other practices of the season in their rightful place.
For me, one part of that has been the CWOW Advent Retreat. This is a time where we can step out of our ordinary routine and allow God to do His transforming work in us and awaken us to the reality that we are still in a place of waiting. God has a word of hope for each of us and as a community. Many people at CWOW are in a particular time of waiting in their lives, and we believe God has a word to say in the midst of that waiting. We as a community, a city and nation are in a time of waiting for justice and freedom for all with the advent of Black Lives Matter and associated movements. We believe God has a word to speak as we gather, seek God and say, “we are waiting.”
This year, CWOW’s Advent Silent Prayer Retreat will be on the first Saturday of Advent, December 5th, from 9am-1pm. Consider attending the Advent prayer retreat as a generous step toward God in this season. In Romans 12:2 it says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” So, let us choose to lean in toward God and allow Him to shape our Advent Season and our experience of Christmas this year. At the retreat, you can expect a brief orientation to resources and a short communal time of scripted prayer and worship, but the majority of the time will be dedicated to silent individual prayer. There will be a wide range of resources available to help shape and direct your time no matter what your experience of prayer is. Whether you’ve done Silent Prayer Retreats before or this is a totally new idea for you, we believe that God will meet you during this time, no experience required.
For me, the Advent Retreat has served as an extra boost into that place of deeper prayer and reflection on the three comings of Christ in my life. He makes me more ready to receive Jesus at Christmas, when He comes again, and all that He has for me in and out of the season. I hope you will join us!