Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. I love Advent, but I don't always keep the season well. I like to view it as a time of waiting on God, of preparing my heart for him.
One of the things that the Advent scriptures do is to focus on Jesus is his many roles. So four years ago I wrote a prayer to use during the Advent season. I've posted it on the blog before, but that was nearly six months ago and many of you weren't stopping by back then. So here is the prayer again.
A few years ago, one of my priests introduced me to Anglican prayer beads, also called the Anglican rosary. Each set contains a cross and thirty-three beads, which symbolize the years of Jesus' life. There are five large beads and twenty-eight small beads, divided into four "weeks" of seven. Four of the large beads are used to separate the weeks. These are called cruciforms because they can be seen as standing for the four arms of the cross. The other large bead is next to the cross. It is called the invitatory.
Many prayers have been written for Anglican prayer beads. Shortly after I started using mine, I began to wish I had a prayer that would help me focus on everything that Jesus is to me. I had two different publications of prayers designed for Anglican beads, but none of the prayers satisfied my longing. So I wrote my own. I offer it to anyone who would like to use it, whether they own Anglican prayer beads or not.
Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen (Rev. 7:12)
Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me,
bless God’s Holy Name. (Ps. 103:1)
(Pray each paired phrase on a separate bead)
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of God, Lead us to the Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Firstborn of all Creation, Create in us a clean heart.
Lord Jesus Christ, Holy One, Lead us into righteousness.
Lord Jesus Christ, Light of the World. Illumine our hearts.
Lord Jesus Christ, Righteous One, Make your people holy.
Lord Jesus Christ, Image of the Invisible God, Show us the Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Mystery of God, Give us the conviction of things not seen.
Lord Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, Have mercy on us.
Lord Jesus Christ, Man of Sorrows, Ease our suffering.
Lord Jesus Christ, Suffering Servant, Redeem us from sin.
Lord Jesus Christ, Incarnate God, Deliver us from temptation.
Lord Jesus Christ, Word of Life, Lead us into all truth.
Lord Jesus Christ, Bread of Life, Feed your people.
Lord Jesus Christ, Living Water, Deliver us from thirst.
Lord Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Lead us on the right path.
Lord Jesus Christ, Chief Cornerstone, Build up your church.
Lord Jesus Christ, Head of the Body, Guide your people.
Lord Jesus Christ, Author and Perfector of Faith, Help our unbelief.
Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd, Seek out the lost sheep.
Lord Jesus Christ, True Vine, Make your branches fruitful.
Lord Jesus Christ, Wonderful Counselor, Give us your wisdom.
Lord Jesus Christ, High Priest, Intercede for us.
Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, End conflict in the world.
Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Come into your kingdom.
Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords, Be sovereign over all.
Lord Jesus Christ, Resurrection and Life, Raise us up on the last day.
Lord Jesus Christ, Alpha and Omega, Let us see your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of Man, Receive our praise.
Also, tomorrow we will put up our creche. The Christmas tree doesn't go up until next week, on the Saturday closest to St. Nicholas Day. (This year they happen to coincide.) I like to give the creche priority to remind me what the season is really about.
Because I'm working two writing jobs from now until January 20, my days will be full and I'm likely to feel fairly stressed out. Fortunately, we've streamlined Christmas a lot over the years--and this year even more. About three-quarters of my gift buying is done. We're not doing cards this year, and I probably won't make cookies. Even so, I'm going to need the quiet preparation of Advent more than ever.
How about you? Do you observe Advent? If so, what does it mean to you, and what observances do you practice?