All things in life that we hold to be essential and important require intentional preparation. Over the weeks of Advent, you are invited to a time of preparation for Christmas. A wonderful way to do this is to participate in the experience of a retreat. The good news is that you do not have to take time off from work or travel to a remote location. Our online retreat allows you to build in prayer, reflection and time with God in your own home, at a time most helpful to you.
What does an online retreat look like?
First, find a comfortable space in your home that is quiet, relatively free from distractions, and provides a warm, comfortable place in which to meet God where you are.
Have a Bible handy, a notebook, pen, a cup of coffee or tea at the ready.
There are three parts to each day's retreat exercises:
Focus on a Biblical word
A Scripture Passage
A short journal exercise
A Daily Activity to put into practice
|First Week of Advent
Wednesday, December 5
"What I say to you I say to all: Keep awake!" Mark 13:37
Read Mark 13:32-37
It is very common for many of us to go from experience to experience, encounter to encounter, event to event on auto-pilot, showing very little awareness that Jesus is present and active in our midst. All too often we confine our life of faith to certain religious moments like going to church, saying our prayers, offering grace before meals, and slowly over time our every day experienced becomes disconnected from our spiritual life.
Advent is a time to wake up. To awaken us to live in a constant state of awareness and attentiveness so that we do not miss Jesus, who is ever-present and ever-active. It means living in the expectancy that we may be surprised by grace and mercy breaking into our lives at any moment. The ordinary things are not taken for granted, rather, they are the places where we can always expect something new from Jesus that will touch our lives in some way. If we are sleeping, we may miss these Advent gifts!
So how do we wake up? We can start each day with a spirit of gratitude and joy, to appreciate our early morning cup of coffee, to open our eyes to whatever is before us, to listen carefully to what is being said by those we are with, to taste the food we are eating, to give out attention fully to whatever task we are completing, to take time to appreciate the sounds around us, and to focus our attention on the present moment. And in whatever we do, we seek to be expectant - expectant that the Messiah who has come will come again and meet us in the here and now. Being awake is all about experiencing Jesus wherever we are, in whatever we are doing, with whomever we find ourselves.
What concerns or worries are you burdened with that prevent you from fully be aware of where Jesus is in your life? Write a prayer asking Jesus to take these heavy burdens of thought, worry, anxiety and fear out of your hands, as if you were carrying three heavy parcels. Describe to Jesus how light you now feel, and ask him for the grace of remaining awake to His desire to be there for you, to help you and mostly, to love you.
Recall a moment recently when you were fully awake to the world around you. Then, remember a moment when you were "sleepwalking" through your day. Notice the difference between these two moments, and ask God to help you stay away throughout the day today.