Advent Musings 1: Stilling the heart

By Gordon Light

This is the first of “Advent Musings,” a series of meditations written by Canadian Anglicans and published on each Monday in Advent.

Lord it is night.
The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.
It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done.
Let it be.
The night is dark.
let our fears of the darkness of the world
and of our own lives
rest in you.
The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
all dear to us,
and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly
to a new day,
new joys,
new possibilities.
In your name we pray. Amen.

There is a story behind this prayer. As the writing team for the New Zealand Prayer Book was in the midst of its work in the 1980s, one member of the group wrote out these lines after a difficult day. But thinking it was just a collection of throwaway verses, he tossed it in a waste basket. Someone found and kept it, and it was included in the section for Night Prayers. It has also become part of the service of Night Prayers of many other churches, including our own. It is a wonderful prayer.

A year ago I was invited to lead an Advent quiet day in St. John’s, Quesnel, B.C. We used this prayer as the focus of our time together. On that day, I asked the participants to think of using the word “Advent” in place of ” the night.” So our prayer that day was this:

“Lord it is Advent…Advent is for stillness…Advent is dark…Advent is quiet…Advent heralds the dawn…”

We explored something of the darkness of this season that calls for light; sought to open ourselves to the stillness and quiet our souls need in the crowded days of shopping, planning and preparing for Christmas that is a hallmark of our culture; and we considered the dawn that Advent announces—the birth of Jesus—heaven’s promise to be with us no matter what. This is a good prayer to pray at any time, but I think especially in Advent. You might consider making it a daily prayer.

The Rt. Rev. Gordon Light is the bishop of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (formerly the Diocese of Cariboo).  A longer version of this article was originally published in The Anglican Link, Fall and Christmas 2008.

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