Growing our spiritual lives is one of the primary benefits of being a part of a church community. That growth can happen sometimes even when we’re not paying attention, but taking the time to actively pay attention and reflect with others can allow our spiritual growth to truly take root in our lives – bettering not only ourselves but our broader community.
A Seven-Week Advent
Adult Forum is starting a new study this Sunday, November 7th. It’s entitled,
“A Seven-Week Advent”.
Wait! What?!? Christmas? Already? Well, no. The focus is Advent, not Christmas. Why Advent so soon? Here’s why. Think of the song “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” as sung by Andy Williams. (Click on this link listen to the song for a moment.) Can you feel the pressure? This song is merry. MERRY! REALLY MERRY!!! This song and others like it will soon be playing at top volume everywhere we go until you and I become MERRY! Resistance is (or at least can come to seem to be) futile!!! And our culture wants us to focus on Christmas without considering Advent at all. (The cultural message is, “Prep everything, plan everything, so you’ll Buy and spend everything right now, and again and again throughout the time leading up to Christmas. There’s no time for thinking about “Why?”, just get out there and DO IT!”) But, without Advent first, where will be the spiritual preparation, where will be the time to “make our (hearts and minds) straight?”
Now, this is not a call to avoid happy thoughts about Christmas or preparations for good times to come. Rather, it is a focus on actually observing Advent as we prepare for Christmas. After all, Advent means “a coming”. That coming, of course, is the birth of Jesus, the Christ, the Savior of the World. And we are called to “Make our paths straight” in preparation for that Coming.
So, for the next few weeks leading up Christmas, we are going to focus on ways to truly observe the season of Advent. Like, focusing on this song: This song is quiet by comparison. Sometimes “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and the season it represents — the contemplative, quiet preparation for the coming of the Lord, a focus on our need for setting things right– has trouble being heard over the din. The culture has shifted, and the season can be drowned out, even when we make our best efforts to stay focused. So why 7 weeks instead of just four? Well, the culture is about to be out ahead of us in its appeal to forget Advent. So, think of this new study at Adult Forum as a Preemptive strike for Advent.
Fr. Stephen Smith, Rector of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Dublin, Ohio, and his congregation have extended the celebration of Advent at their church to seven weeks instead of four. Advent, Stephen argues, is a season in its own right. “It’s a time of holy contemplation and preparation, so why not start it a little sooner? Give it a few weeks to sink in before determined merriment and Christmas preparations start to kick in? At the very least, those extra three weeks allow for less rush and distraction as we celebrate Advent; at the least, it gives people an Advent season that they otherwise won’t notice through the Christmas rush.”
In this study, Fr. Stephen outlines reasons and ways to celebrate the Advent season over a period of seven weeks instead of four. We will also have The Rt. Rev. Susan Goff, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, leading us in a series of three meditations on the Coming of Christ: The Christ who came, The Christ who comes, the Christ who will come again.
So, come and join us at Adult Forum starting this Sunday, in-person or by Zoom, and get ready to let Advent get you ready for Christmas.
For more information on Congregations observing the 7-week Advent, follow this link to The Advent Project.
Adult Forum info
Grace’s Adult Discussion Group meets 9:35 am–10:20 am Sundays from September through May to explore challenging topics related to the expression of our Christian faith in the modern world.
Coffee’s always on! The Rector generally, though not exclusively, leads the Forum. All are welcome! No pre-registration is required, and it’s not necessary to attend every session in a series. Just join us!
If you are joining us in-person, we will be meeting downstairs in the Rose Room. Childcare will be available starting at 9:30 a.m., just across the hall.
Links to Zoom and discussion guides are emailed to those who are on our email list. If you would like to receive these emails, please let us know! Send your requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous Adult Forum Topics
Four-week topic: How to be a Crazy Christian
October 10 – 31, 2021
Adult Forum will be discussing a new topic: How to be a Crazy Christian. Starting Sunday, October 10th, you can join us in-person in the Rose Room, or on-line through our Zoom link at 9:35 a.m. for the next four weeks.
But wait a minute! Do we really want to be called “crazy?” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry says we do. In fact, anyone who truly follows Jesus is, by the world’s definition, a bit insane. After all, Jesus did a lot of “crazy” things during His lifetime, things that seemed incomprehensible to the world around Him and even to His own followers: He loved the outcast and criminal, He raised the dead, He taught radical forgiveness and generosity, He submitted to test and torture and even execution. So, if we really consider ourselves His followers, how can we not do the same?
And yet so often we listen more to the voices of our time and our culture, or to our own self-centered desires. We dumb down or sanitize worship and theology. We get fixated on the here and now.
In these discussions, Presiding Bishop Curry will be joining us by video to encourage us to break away, to be different, to embrace the crazy hope of the Gospel. He offers wisdom and guidance on how to become what he calls “crazy Christians.”
But beware: following Jesus can be simultaneously natural and easy (as we live into who we were created to be) AND it can be relentlessly difficult (as we break away from what the world tells us, and as we seek to remain committed to our calling). Joining the counter-cultural adventure of discipleship means beginning truly to live, to know peace and joy, to have hope, and to dream of glory.
If you seek to revitalize your faith, or to learn more about what it means to be a Christian, or if you’re simply weary of following your own way, join us. Adult Forum is for you.
A note about our guest speaker: The Most Rev. Michael Curry is Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. Before he became Presiding Bishop, he was Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina as well as a popular speaker and a writer. He has published two books: Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus (2013) and Songs My Grandma Sang (2015).
Four-week topic: Living the Spirit-Filled Life
September 12, 2021 – October 3, 2021
What does it mean to live a more Spirit-filled life? Who is the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit have to do with our day-to-day lives?
For the next four weeks, Adult Forum will ponder these questions. With the help of author, media personality, and Episcopal priest, Fr. Albert Cutie, we will find some answers to these, and other questions like them.
In brief, Fr. Albert this summary: “A Spirit-filled life is one that is radically open to the presence of the living God. Jesus promises us and wishes for us a Spirit-filled life; the Holy Spirit is quite simply, quite powerfully, the presence of the living God, the Creator of the universe.”
“When we intentionally invite the Holy Spirit into our daily actions and habits, we will become more in tune with God and with what God is calling us to do, to say, to be. We will experience that peace which passes all understanding when we are following God’s voice.”