Advent Prayers in My Pocket

The antidote to the "shop till you drop" days before Christmas

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Posted in , Dec 3, 2014

Advent, the antidote to a consumer Christmas. Photo Volker Kreinack, Thinkstock.

My cell phone buzzed first thing this morning with a message. “Who’s texting me now?” I wondered. Turned out it was God. Or at least one of God’s minions.

There on the screen was a prayer: Give us, who are called by your holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence.

Alex Nelson, Anne Marie Roderick and Tim Hamlin, the Christmas counter-culturists.I should explain. I don’t give my cell phone number out to anybody, just family and friends.

When I get a call or a text it’s from somebody I know and if it’s an unknown number, I don’t answer it. He or she can leave a message. (Okay, once it was Elizabeth Dole and I immediately called her back, apologetically.)

But here it was a prayer on my screen. Then I remembered. This was something I signed up for. An Advent message for every day of the Advent season.

Advent often gets buried in the loud, raucous, green-and-red-lights, tinsel-on-everything, commercial scream of “Shop Till You Drop” days before Christmas. It’s about waiting, and every inherent “Buy It Now!” message of the season argues against celebrating Advent.

Where is the sign that says, “Open your heart, make room, your Savior’s coming?” And not just for the first time but for the second time and time immemorial, God’s time of peace and justice forever.

That’s why I was grateful to a group of young adults at church–yes, one of them is my younger son, Tim–who came up with this idea. Advent warriors, the ultimate counter-culturists.

“The Young Adults of St. Michael’s are offering a daily digital Advent calendar,” said the announcement in the bulletin. “Sign up to receive a short, contemplative text message during Advent by texting ADVENTTIDE to 313131 or emailing your name and cell phone number to [email protected].”

Try it. You’ll like it. Nobody’s trying to sell you anything. And it only lasts 25 days…22 days by now. I can assure you these Christmas counter-culturists are the best sort of elves. One of them spends most of his weekends among the pots and pans of the Saturday soup kitchen. 

Waiting doesn’t come easy to me. I like things to happen right now. But waiting in prayer is just right, waiting with God and working with God as He creates his wonders.

I like being reminded of that at 8:30 in the morning when the phone buzzes with a prayer in my pocket. Like I said, I only give out my cell number to friends and family.

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