On the first Sunday of Advent we open our hearts to the Lord by opening “O Radiant-Dawn, 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath” as we prepare to light the first candle.
Lisa Hendey's beautiful booklet for Advent reflects her deep faith and willingness to share what’s important to her family as we all prepare for Christmas. Each of the 28 daily devotional services take only five minutes for individuals, couples, families or other groups.
Lisa was inspired to write this for us by a glorious sunrise she almost missed from her kitchen window. “Recently, while standing at that window on a particularly crisp, clear morning,” she writes, “my heart soared at the first rays of light. In that moment, one of the ‘O Antiphons’ of Advent came to mind and sparked in my heart a sense of amazement at the splendor of God's love for me: ‘O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice; come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.’”
Our busyness keeps us running, especially this time of year with additional decorating, shopping and entertaining we could never keep up with all year long. In our haste to do it all we can easily miss the sacredness of the season. Here’s her remedy:
“Just as that recent dawn took my breath away and drew me to Christ, this humble booklet can be for your family a doorway into the profound solace of a well-kept Advent. With a few minutes of daily silence, scripture, prayer, and private reflection or shared conversation about what matters most, I hope you find and grow to cherish a place of quiet refuge around your Advent wreath. Put away unhelpful expectations of what you think Advent should be and allow this to be a time of simplicity, focus, and sacred longing.”
I like the way the booklet is organized. Each Advent devotion begins with an opening prayer and the lighting of the candle or candles. All pray in silence or sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” A short Scripture reading is followed by silent reflection or discussion on the questions for sharing.
Lisa’s separate suggestions to adapt the reflection and questions for young children welcomes them into the celebration. Then comes the closing prayer, and while making the sign of the cross all say, “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! Amen”
Her introduction of the origins, purpose and traditions of Advent are refreshing and give us clarity to tell others why Advent is such a rich way to wait in expectant faith for our newborn Savior.
The O Antiphons come alive in the last section of the booklet. They open the prayer service for appropriate days at the end of Advent, giving a heighten sense of expectation as we fully enter into Christmas with praise on our lips and our hearts open. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!
Does you family use the Advent Wreath to prepare for Christmas? What songs or prayers do you use?
(© 2013 Nancy H C Ward)