It’s no accident that Advent is a celebration of the coming of Light into the darkest time of year in the northern hemisphere, or in a season when we see social needs all around us, or when we wonder how we’re going to get along with a certain person in our lives yet another year. Advent coincides with a time when we could really use some divine Light all around us.
This year during Advent here at Western we’ll be focused on the coming of the Light – specifically the Light of Christ, but as a new expression of God’s Light since the beginning of time. (Yes, all in four short weeks!)
We usually think of light as something we see. In the scriptures, God’s Light is often something we hear. God says, “Let there be light,” and creation comes into being. The psalmist says “Thy Word is a lamp” and John’s gospel reminds us the Word that was in the beginning was the light of all people. This fall, I have rediscovered the light of spoken word, particularly through guided meditations, using podcasts. I listen as I make breakfast or in the car on my way to church. It’s an opportunity for me to center myself, to pay attention both to what lies beyond me and what lies inside me, and to search for God’s Light in all of it.
As you consider the coming of God’s Light into your life and our world this season, I invite you to explore meditation on your own. You might already have a resource; here are some I have found helpful, that you may enjoy, along with links to their work:
- Tara Brach is a Buddhist teacher who leads dharma talks at the River Road Unitarian Church in Bethesda. She is not specifically Christian, but well-grounded in teaching a spirituality that spans traditions. A good teacher of meditation, she uploads a new 15 to 20-minute meditation each week, often including paying attention to breath.
- Pray as you go is a daily podcast in the Ignatian spiritual tradition. Recorded in the UK (and therefore with a British accent), these 10-minute meditations correspond to daily lectio readings and included a meditative musical component, scripture, and imaginative reflection questions. You may listen from the website, as a podcast however you listen to podcasts, or download the free app for Android or iOS. This Advent they have produced Imagining the Nativity, designed for Advent discussion.
- The Liturgists are “a global community working to subvert the barriers our society builds around religion, race, gender, ability and sexuality.” The podcasts are hosted by two self-admittedly geeky white guys who grew up in conservative churches, lost their faith, and rediscovered spirituality influenced by Christian mysticism. You may listen to their regular podcasts, or pay $5/month and listen to their guided meditations, or purchase their album of Advent music and reflections on iTunes.
I am also curious if any spoken word meditations are bringing God’s light to you this season! Or, if not this, what else are you reading or listening to?
In this season, when darkness seems to grow, may you know the coming of the Light in Christ – within, beyond, and all around.
Grace and peace,