GATHERED AROUND THE WORD
One of the features of Advent in many parishes is the service of Lessons and Carols. We love all those familiar Old Testament readings which the early Christians (following the example of Jesus himself - Luke 24:27) understood as prophecies announcing the coming of God's Messiah.
Since the invention of printing and then the development of literacy skills across the whole population in western societies, we have got used to the idea that reading our Bibles at home individually is the primary way in which we hear God speak. This is not as it was for most of the Judeo-Christian sweep of history, in which the community "gathered around the Word" and experienced God in a corporate act of humble listening and waiting. In our culture the richness of the Scripture portions in the "Lessons and Carols" service, as well - of course - as the prophetic readings we hear at the Sunday Mass, renews for us this sense of hearing God together.
In his book Finding My Way Home, Henri Nouwen puts it this way:
"Our waiting is always shaped by alertness to the Word. It is waiting in the knowledge that someone wants to address us. The question is, are we home? Are we at our address, ready to respond to the doorbell? We need to wait together, to keep each other at home spiritually, so that when the Word comes it can become flesh in us. That is why the Book of God is always in the midst of those who gather. We read the Word so that the Word can become flesh and have a whole new life in us." (page 107)
ADVENT IN A NUTSHELL
Do you want to send your friends something that says it all in two minutes? Well, watch this YouTube clip. It is the very best!