Advent, a Season of Verbs


The season of Advent is upon us, and one of my clergy friends, who is also into photography, likes to participate every year in the Advent Word Global Advent Calendar. Hosted by the Anglican Communion, The Society of St. John the Evangelist, and the Virginia Theological Seminary (and found here), it offers a different word to contemplate each day. Followers are invited to take a photograph that reveals that word and post it online using the hashtag #AdventWord. While i've never really gotten into following it every day, i do enjoy seeing what others are doing throughout Advent.

The Calendar got me to thinking about many of the words associated with this season, and i noticed how many of them are simple verbs - watch, wait, prepare, repent, comfort, greet, expect, proclaim, rejoice, etc. I confess i sometimes struggle with my attention span, so trying to reflect on a different word every day is probably just going to lead me to frustration and disappointment (not good Advent words), i can manage to attune to a few - perhaps four, one for each week of the season. If you are looking for a way to keep Advent apart from the rest of the year, to mark this season as different - less hectic and more holy - i suggest you consider this simple discipline.

Because they are words that convey actions, verbs are especially helpful for spiritual disciplines. In fact, one of the best preachers i know, Barbara Brown Taylor, regularly begins her sermon preparations by looking only at the verbs in the Gospel passage and building from there. I find some of the Advent verbs - watch and wait, for example - particularly helpful because to do them properly, they require a certain stillness and calm we don't often associate with action. So while i suggest that you do choose some verbs (or maybe just one for the whole season), i don't want to suggest which verbs to pick. I will suggest a couple of ways to narrow your choices, however; perhaps pick the ones that most resonate with you, words that you immediately feel drawn to. If you're up to more of a challenge, then maybe do just the opposite. What verbs seem the least comfortable or comforting to you? I find God often speaks to me either through those things that come most easily or through those that challenge me most.

Whatever you decide, i hope you will find some way that works for you to mark this season in which we prepare not only to celebrate the joy of the birth of Christ but also to receive him when he comes in his glory.