By Amy Welborn, from Living Faith:
During Advent, in these days leading to Christmas, my days and evenings are marked by familiar rituals of all kinds. I pray at Mass, of course. And in the Scriptures, prayers and music, I am eased into the journey of waiting and hope. Candles glimmer from my mother's Advent wreath. We hang the wooden "O Antiphon" crafts my sons made years ago. The lights, the recipes, the scents of these days create a place that I know. That day in the Temple, Zechariah approached the Lord in a familiar, sacred ritual. In the midst of the prayer, as the incense wafted to heaven, the unexpected broke in. An angel appeared with astonishing news. The rituals that engage me during these weeks are a gift. They are a gift for the sacred story that they help me to understand, and their familiar space is a gift. And, in the midst of it all, I pause and notice that, here and now, God is offering something new.