Learning to Linger Longer | COTH Blog | Church on the Hill

Learning to Linger Longer

December 8, 2023 | Jeff Coleman

Read Time 4-5 minutes

I love the Christian calendar year. Sometimes it’s called the liturgical year, or simply the Church Year. Nevertheless, it has been a source of deep spiritual formation and rhythm for me. Each season is designed to focus on the Story of God found in the person of Jesus Christ. Each season contains a different emphasis, focus, pace, and function and Advent, the four weeks prior to Christmas, is no different. Advent is a time to prepare for the birth of Christ. Advent is not just about marking days on the calendar, but it is a season where we can intentionally prepare our hearts to welcome the arrival of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

As a result, it’s an excellent season to — imagine this — slow down! I know, who has time to slow down during the holiday season!? There is simply so much to do and prepare for in the first place that, if we aren’t careful, the one thing that needs to be prepared for (the birth of Christ) might be the one thing that gets shoved to the side and forgotten. In the midst of the holiday rush, we often forget the profound wisdom in slowing down and simply enjoying being with the Lord. We need to learn how to “linger longer” in God’s presence.

Advent, with its distinct rhythms, provides a perfect opportunity for us to "linger longer" in God's presence. Here are some practical ways we can do just that:

1. Advent Wreath Lighting: One of the beautiful traditions of Advent is the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath. Each candle represents a different aspect of our spiritual journey - hope, peace, joy, and love. Take time as a family to light the candles, read the accompanying Scriptures, follow along with the Advent calendar created by our children’s ministry, and pray together. Allow the soft glow of the candles to remind you of the Light of the World who is to come.

2. Try a Different Translation: Why not get a fresh take on the Scripture and use a different translation. No need to go buy a new Bible. Instead, head over to Biblegateway.com and pick a new translation. I started this back in September, and it’s been a great way to reengage the Word of God and hear the Lord speak through a different “translational accent.”

3. Daily Devotionals: Set aside a few moments each day for a short Advent devotional. YouVersion offers so many resources and reading plans. These can serve as a gentle guide, helping you to focus on the true meaning of the season. Share these moments with your family either in the car, over dinner, on the way to school, or before bedtime, encouraging one another in your faith journey. If you’re not sure where to start, begin with our own GPS Scripture reading. Text "GPS" to (678) 324-4360 and you will receive the daily Scripture on your mobile device starting at 6 AM each morning.

4. Arrive Early or Stay Late: In our worship services, we try to intentionally slow down and create spaces for contemplation. As we sing the familiar carols and hear the ancient stories of God's love, let your heart be open to the wonder and mystery of Christ's coming. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and let the presence of God envelop you, but consider arriving 10 minutes early to simply sit quickly and “gather yourself” before the service begins or stay a few minutes late and simply soak in the presence of God. Give thanks to the Lord for His sustaining grace.

5. Advent Prayer Walks: Despite the chill in the air, consider taking a prayer walk through your neighborhood, a local park, or around your school or our church. Use this time to pray, reflect, and meditate on the beauty of God’s creation. Nature can be a powerful reminder of the Creator who loves us and came to Earth on our behalf.

6. Advent Acts of Kindness: Instead of getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, practice intentional acts of kindness. Be the hands and feet of Christ to those in need. Practice hospitality and generosity and share God’s love by serving others, and in doing so, you'll find His presence in unexpected places. There are still some spots to deliver holiday food boxes with The Block Community Outreach. To sign up to volunteer and make a difference in our community CLICK HERE.

As we journey through Advent, let’s not be swept away by the busyness of the season, but instead, let us choose to linger longer in God’s presence. Embrace the sacred rhythms of hope, peace, joy, and love. As individuals, as families, and as a worshipping community, may we create space in our hearts and schedules to welcome the Christ child with open arms and receptive spirits.

Let this Advent be a time of renewal and reconnection with a Holy God. I pray you will find God’s presence in the flickering candlelight, in the stillness of prayer, and in the faces of those we serve. And may the love of Jesus Christ fill our hearts and homes, making this Advent season a truly meaningful and transformative time that will lead us toward a Simple Christmas.