Now and then, I come across a message that so perfectly encapsulates my thoughts and prayers for our Mercy family, I feel honoured to share it with you all. November 28 marks the beginning of Advent this year, the four-week period before Christmas that celebrates the anticipation and coming of Jesus Christ. Here, Jay Ferguson of Grace Community School in the US, reflects on Advent, with words that speak to us all…
“The Church has recognised the power of meditation for millennia, and built seasons of reflection into the liturgical year. The seasons are times of preparation, often preceding great times of celebration. These seasons are intended to cause us to slow down, to reflect upon God’s work in our lives, and ruminate on our connection to the Divine or the Great Spirit that pervades our existence. Reflecting on these things grounds my identity, it reminds me of who I am; it reorients my priorities, realigning them with (if I am a person of faith), to God’s best for me or what I, interiorly, perceive is best for me. It allows me to slow down long enough to see the sovereign hand of a Greater Reality at work in my life all year long. Recognising that this Greater reality is drawing me into relationship, heightening my trust, my reliance on, my awareness of this Presence, and my ability to hear that inner voice. These seasons are very important to our spiritual well-being.
We are entering one of these seasons now. Advent isn’t just about lighting candles and counting down the shopping days until Christmas. For Christians, this season is about reflecting upon the miracle of the Incarnation, that moment in time where the eternal, perfect, Almighty Creator of the universe, who previously existed only in spirit, became one of us. This cosmos-shattering moment in history wasn’t a one-time event; it was for all eternity. Jesus is, even now, the God-Man, intervening on our behalf, knowing our struggles, our feelings, our joys, and our hurts, and living them right alongside us. For those not of the Christian faith, it may be a time for reflecting on what is truly important to us, our connections and where we are called to in our lives, in our relationships, career choices, service of others and so much more.
Advent is a time to reflect on how God, no matter how we name this, has been active in our life throughout the whole year. Are you closer to God than you were this time last year? Are you closer to someone else? What character traits have developed within you this year, and what events or people in your life have been used to bring those characteristics forth? What difficult circumstances or people have you learnt from? What circumstances or people have experienced a more abundant life through your ‘yes’, and what fruit has developed through that experience? What particular joys came to fruition this year, perhaps new experiences, or new friendships? What challenges did you need to overcome?
Slowing down, getting alone, and dwelling on these things, maybe even journaling them, will actually heighten the joy of Christmas—they help us realise that this one abundant year in this abundant life we’ve been given, is all made possible because of the miracle in the manger whose mission we as a Mercy family continue each day.
If we scamper about frenetically this season in a flurry of activity, even if it does result in a fun holiday, and fail to use this time of reflection to the fullest, we will be poorer for it—less resilient, less joyful, less grateful, and less ready for the new year. We were made for so much more. A well-kept Christmas begins with a reflective Advent.”
I pray you have a very fruitful, peaceful and blessed Christmas, enjoying life with your families.
This Christmas message was originally shared by Jay Ferguson, JD, PhD, the headmaster of Grace Community School, Tyler, Texas, on the blog of the Association of Christian Schools International https://blog.acsi.org/christmas-a-season-for-reflection