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We begin a new liturgical year. The God of Light comes into our darkness. Our hope is renewed. 

Advent calls us to slow down and reflect on the beautiful mystery of our faith and the awesome gift of the Incarnation. Come, Lord Jesus. Be with us!

The language of this wonderful season fills the heart. As a musician, I find that I fall into the scripture and the lyrics of the hymns. I am grounded again, renewed.  

As a teacher, it is special to watch how children learn about the season. Advent is tangible to children. They fully embrace its symbols and rituals. The symbols of the wreath and the lighting of the candles fills them with awe. We could all benefit from adopting this childlike wonder and joy.  

Advent reminds us that Jesus came from a time and place with challenges much like the world today. Politics complicated peoples’ lives, poverty and injustice were everywhere and families did their best to cope. Here our God arrives, into the messiness of it all. 

There is a counter message to all of this darkness. We read of the hope of Mary and Elizabeth and the joy of motherhood. We read of a voice in the desert prophesying the one who will bring peace. We read of angels bringing messages of great joy. A light shines in the darkness. 

This Advent season, open the gift of contemplation and immerse yourself in the scriptures of the season. Surround yourself in purple, light the candles and meditate on God whose love transcends time and space. Listen to the hymns that call us back to the ancient narrative of salvation. May hope, peace, joy and love guide your feet toward the stable. May the words of these ancient melodies fill you this year with a deeper sense of the presence of Christ.  

“Hark,a mystic voice is sounding…Christ is near…whom priests and prophets long foretold…make your house fair as you are able…awake and greet the new morn…patience, people-til the Lord is come…make the pathway straight and the highway run smooth…set the table…disperse the gloomy clouds of night…rejoice…bid us hail the dawn of grace…O come, thou dayspring…Thou whom nations sighed for…come and cheer…wait for the Lord, his day is near…to you shall come Emmanuel.”

Jan Bentham is a retired Religion Coordinator with the Ottawa Catholic School Board. She is a musician, serving in music ministry at St. Ignatius Parish in Ottawa. She currently works at St. Paul’s University with the Catholic Women’s Leadership Program. 

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