By Rev. Mary Farmer
Happy New Year! Collectively we have put 2018 to bed, and begin this new calendar year with all the memories of Advent and Christmas still fresh in our minds.
In the Advent AFP reflection, we were encouraged to remain awake to the wonder of the season of preparation for the birth of Jesus. Given the busyness of our lives and the pace around us, the suggestion to cultivate just a moment at a time for prayer or reflection is doable for almost everyone. How do we carry taking that moment to remind ourselves of the presence of God forward in our lives.
Advent gives us a time to remember our shared story, and intentionally ‘clear out’ space in our lives and hearts for Jesus. The turn of the calendar year often prompts us to turn over a ‘new leaf’ and make changes in our lives and practices. Last year a friend suggested that in place of resolutions she had made the ‘intention’ to seek the revelation of the Divine in all things every day and to be unreservedly grateful. Without putting seasonal limits on taking that moment, it both reinforces the practice of making a moment for God in our lives and encourages the awareness and gratitude that brings.
Intention allows for the uncluttering of the mind, filled with concerns and details that creep in and can threaten to overshadow the space in hearts and minds that considers and wrestles with faith. Having started the preparations for Jesus coming in Advent, the time we carve out for prayer and reflection can make that space a welcoming and fruitful place.
Using intention instead of resolution as a guide, the season or place doesn’t matter when looking to deepen the relationship we have with God. A moment, whenever or wherever it presents itself, is to be taken and explored. With practice, those moments become more easily recognized and can take us to places we hadn’t imagined.
Being available, listening and looking to see where God is already present and working in our lives give the ‘what ifs’ we began to cultivate in the wonder of Advent room to grow. The ‘what ifs’ we planted in Advent (taking a breath; pausing while you are stopped at a traffic light; refusing to let worry seep into your thoughts; praying for the people you greet) become habits and opportunities for the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. Those intentional moments become times of reconnection and refreshment, helping you and me to continue to seek the Divine in all times and in all things…and to be grateful.
In the words of my friend, I invite you to begin this year not with resolutions but with the ‘intention’ to see the Divine in all things and be grateful, continuing in the wonder of Advent, confident in the hope and love of our Lord.
Rev. Mary Farmer is an AFP Huron executive.