“Christmastide: Prayers For Advent Through Epiphany From The Divine Hours” by Phyllis Tickle. Published 2003 by Galilee Books.
The season of Advent will soon be upon us, like next Sunday. If you’ve read my blog over the years you’ve probably noticed that I have a special affinity for Advent. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without it. My family is responsible for this. Some of the earliest memories I have of the Christmas season involve my family gathered around the Advent wreath, lighting candles and singing songs in the light of our Christmas tree. My sister and I were always taught that what is celebrated during Christmas: Hope, Joy, Peace, and Goodwill were all a result of Christ’s incarnation. Yeah, we knew that Jesus probably wasn’t born in December and that much of the Christmas celebration is appropriated pagan symbolism and all that, but it’s the time period when we celebrate eternity stepping into time, and that’s just fine.
I’ll post more on our Advent traditions through the season, because they are something I’m really trying to remember and treasure in this season of my life. For now though, I want to talk about some of the things I’ll be doing this year. I’m really excited!
First off is the book I pictured above. It’s called “Christmastide” by Phyllis Tickle (who unfortunately passed away last year.) What it is is an update of what is often called the “Liturgy of the Hours” in the Catholic Church and the “Divine Office” in the Anglican tradition, of which Methodism is a part. This liturgy involves different prayers and readings at set times of the day. Traditionally in the Roman rite the hours are assigned as such:
LAUDS–Dawn or 3 AM.
COMPLINE–Upon retiring or at 9 PM.
There is also a VIGIL or NIGHT OFFICE called MATINS which is at midnight or during the night.
Tickle’s work called “The Divine Hours” takes many of these traditions into account. On each day there are prayers and readings that are to be done on the hour or half hour between 6-9 AM, 11 AM-2PM, 5 PM-8 PM, and a Night office or Compline Prayer to use before retiring.
This is meant to bring about daily prayer routine as a spiritual discipline. The readings and prayers are not randomly picked, but are traditional based on the time of year and liturgical season.
I love liturgy so I’m really excited about this, especially right now as we approach this special time of year and as I look to develop more spiritual discipline in my life. It’s going to be interesting. I’m nearly always at work during either the 11-2 or 5-8 hours. I work with the public, so there’s not really a private space I can go retreat to while I observe these offices. Add to that the fact that I don’t want to make a show of it to seem pious, and I don’t want to ask to be given special accommodations to go off and do it. So it will be interesting to see how this is going to work, but I’m determined to see it to fruition. I hope that this will give me timeout during the rigors of the day to refocus on Christ and refresh.
For my personal time with the Advent Wreath I’ll be working through the book: “The Wonder of Christmas” by Ed Robb and Rob Renfroe.
This is new this year from Abingdon Press. It’s a short little seasonal study that also offers an a little daily devotional book that you can get as well. Rob and Renfroe are pastors at The Woodlands United Methodist Church in Texas. I’ve read some of their stuff before and really liked it, especially from Rob Renfroe.
So those are part of my plans to celebrate Advent and Christmas this year. You’ll most likely see stuff here on the blog about them, especially as I experiment with the Divine Hours. Whatever you get up to this Christmas and Advent, it is my hope that the Spirit Blesses you with a great sense of peace during this time when there’s a lot of and anger and unrest about.