5 Spiritual Practices for Advent

By Rev. Chris Harris

The season of Advent is a time of hopeful expectation as we await the coming of Jesus, but it begins with Jesus inviting us to ‘keep awake!’ (Matthew 24:42) This is because the coming of Jesus that we await is not merely in his birth at Christmas, but in all of the ways Jesus is being re-born into our lives each day. Here are 5 spiritual practices (which I described in a recent sermon) that can help you stay awake and keep your life’s compass pointed toward God.  

Like all new habits, it can be helpful to ease into them and so I invite you to try these on for the 5 weeks of Advent only at first. And then on Christmas morning, after all the presents have been opened, notice how these practices have been a gift to you. What did they awaken you to? Where did they enrich your life?  How did they improve your relationships and deepen your faith?  

And then ask yourself if they might be practices worth continuing for all the seasons of your life.


1. Pray Daily – Take 5 or 10 minutes every day to have a conversation with God. That’s all prayer needs to be. A conversation. What are you thankful for? What are you sorry about? What’s on your heart? Share it with God and as you do, resist the temptation to hold back or edit yourself. If it’s bothering you, it’s bothering God. Whether it’s something you do before bed or on the drive to work. God doesn’t care, he just wants to hear from you – more than anything else. He wants to hear from YOU.

Try this:  Join us Tuesday nights in St. Paul’s Chapel for The Examen – a short, contemplative prayer you can do at home every day. Details here.


2. Worship weekly – Whether you experience worship as a respite from our broken world, a safe place to be healed and renewed, or a place to reconnect with God’s people and lift your spirits in song, make it a priority to come each week. And most importantly, don’t stay away when life gets difficult. Church is not only for the times when we are feeling good, but it’s also the place to go when it feels like our life is falling apart. Because church is where it starts to come together…in a whole new way. 


3. Learn constantly – Whether it’s our weekly bible studies, our Sunday forums, our Wednesday night classes, our women’s spirituality group, or one of our countless book studies, the point is: Gather with others, and wrestle with your faith, share your life, allow your assumptions to be challenged, let the scriptures read YOU, and watch as your faith GROW, as your relationships are transformed. 

Try this:  Check out our calendar of Adult Formation opportunities in December


4. Serve joyfully – Whether it’s in your neighborhood or a community group, the local school, or one of the many outreach ministries of this church, find the intersection of YOUR gifts and YOUR passions… and the world’s deep need. Each one of us have been gifted by God in ways that no one else has ever been, or ever will be. God has already given you all you need to love and serve the world. Experiment! Try things out until you find the place that makes your heart sing as you serve and where you are fed, while you feed others.  

Try this: Help serve Christmas Day Brunch to members of the community! 


5. Give generously – God gave us life. God gave us the world and everything in it. God gave us his son. And then Jesus gave his life for us all. God gives because God loves. Giving is love in action and thus giving is at the heart of what it means to be Christian. And notice the word is generously. I don’t think it works if we give timidly or meekly or comfortably. Giving generously requires us to rearrange our priorities. It forces us to budget around our giving. And most importantly, causes us to say NO to some things…so we can say a bigger YES to God. 

Try this: If you haven’t already done so, set up a weekly or monthly pledge to Christ Church Cranbrook here, and say YES to God as a priority in your life. Become a partner in the transforming mission of God and see how it helps to transform your life!


Keep in mind, while they are each an essential spiritual practice by themselves, together they are FAR MORE than the sum of their parts. So be sure to try on ALL FIVE — at least for the next five weeks. Think of it as a spiritual workout for the soul. And then let me know what God did through them, through you. I can’t wait to hear!

Looking for more ways to try on these essential practices? Want to share what they are doing in your life? Let’s talk! Drop me an email at charris@christchurchcranbrook.org or call the office at 248-644-5210 to set a time.

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