When The Heart Waits: A Soul Journey Into Advent, Christmas & Epiphany

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offered through Anam Cara Ministries in partnership with Conversations Journal
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Register before November 15 for a special early bird bonus!

 

“What are you waiting for?”

 

You’ve probably heard this question from someone who thought you should be doing something, acting, taking life into your hands. You may have said it to a child hesitating at a doorway or on the edge of a diving board. Or thought it when a friend seemed to be choosing inaction instead of pursuing something they were clearly called to.

Usually, the question is laced with expectation, fear, or, worse, contempt. Waiting is something our world doesn’t tolerate well. (How long does it take you to get irritated when someone doesn’t text you back immediately, or your smartphone suddenly gets “dumb”?) We’ve been trained to believe that waiting is negative, fruitless, hopeless.

But the story of God says otherwise.

The story of God tells us of a people waiting for rescue, of a people waiting for the Promised Land, of a people waiting for the Messiah. It tells of individuals who wait well (Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Zechariah, Anna, Jesus) and of those who do not (Saul, Amnon, Judas). And, finally, it tells the story of us—the story of a people waiting for the Kingdom of God to come in its fullness.

This is the story of Advent.

It is the promise of Christmas.

It is the revelation of Epiphany.

It is our story.

But which story are we going to live in, this season?

Are we going to live into the story of our Insta-culture, where we’re tempted and groomed into believe that our walls need the latest letterpress Christmas art (O come, all ye faithful!) and our relatives need the most beautiful, curated gifts? Are we going to be lured and lulled into believing that if we can write out the verse with some beautiful script, it won’t make us uncomfortable or on edge with the wildness and unfathomable reality of our God? (See below.)

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We are either being drawn to the more, more, more of our disposable culture or we are being drawn away from the hustle and the hurry into deeper communion with Christ—a holy waiting.

But how do we make the switch? How, in this season of twinkle lights and stress and doIreallyhavetosendanotherChristmascard?, do we find the interior space to cultivate that hope for the Kingdom of God, the kind of hope that if not embraces at least engages waiting? How do we stop shaming ourselves when we can’t wait to eat that extra Christmas cookie or really, really want the newest gadget to appear under the tree? When we can’t wait? How do we examine our impatience, rush, and hurry honestly before God in order to see how He might transform and redeem our fractured selves into a more grace-filled whole?

What if, instead of the frantic holiday pace the world demands, what if there was another, slower pace? What if involved having the courage to wait? What if this season could be about discovering the quiet glory that appears in the waiting spaces—places we thought empty and without life? What if that exploration could lead us into some ancient practices and the discovery of a peace that transcends the tacky? What if, in the slowing and longing, the waiting and aching, we might discover the kind of rhythm that will last us the whole year long? That will usher us into true longing for God?

And what about that blank space that descends after the Christmas? What if, as the ancient church experienced, December 25 was just the start of a beautiful journey into the meaning and experience of Emmanuel, God with us, instead of the end? What if the story kept going? What if that story culminated in a celebration and experience of revelation and redemption?

You’re invited into a six-week online experience of what it’s like When The Heart Waits.
Framed by quiet prayer, reflection, Scripture, simple exercises and a few surprises along the way, this retreat of holy waiting is for the desperate, the seemingly satisfied, the misfits, the perfectionists, the sorrowing, the rejoicing, the lost and the found.

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The Shape of Our Sojourn

Each week we will journey in community and individually through themes and exercises designed to bring you closer to the heart of Christ in this season, deeper into the reality of the rhythm of waiting in this season. You’ll receive a daily email with Scripture readings, and a weekly exercise in waiting and watch as a way to frame your Advent practice. During the Christmas season and the beginning of Epiphany, you’ll receive once a week exercises to help you enter more deeply into the revelation of God in Christ right now.  If you choose, you can up your level of participation and join us in a private online community, where you’ll have access to either a reflection, exercise (both embodied and spiritual), or interview every week day, as well as a community to journey alongside. Together, you’ll lean into the struggles and the successes of this season, getting to know and pray for one another in the with-ness of Advent. This community will be moderated by an experienced spiritual director in order to hold your time in prayer and safety. You can participate as much or as little as you like, making this journey uniquely yours. We’ll have a mid-Advent live check in call that will be recorded, and each community member will receive a personal, final blessing at the end of our time. If you’d like to journey even more fully with others, once a week (usually on Sundays), you’ll be invited to participate in a group video conference to experience the season in community. These conferences will be times of prayer and reflection, times to slow down and listen to God and one another as the season progresses. To live out the rhythm of God’s heartbeat. For those familiar with the term, these will be times of group spiritual direction—facilitated experiences of listening to God together.

Weekly Themes

Week One: The End In The Beginning

Advent begins not with the Christ child, but with the end of time. The season of Advent invites us to turn toward what is to come, and to turn with all of our questions, hopes, doubts and longings. It is a time when we confront our desire for the world to be set right, when we step into what it means to feel adrift in a place that isn’t fully home. It’s a time to notice our current longings, to take stock of them, and to consider what’s truly in our hearts before the commercial machine that is “Christmas” in our culture swallows up all of our best intentions. It’s a time to embrace that we yearn for something more, and to look at what that something more might be—why would we even want to wait for it? Advent’s embrace of the ache presses us against the thin membrane between Heaven and earth, and we are changed.

Week Two: But, Wait?

The theme of waiting thrums through the weeks before Christmas, pulsing with the tension of what is and what is to come. Here we step closer to the question of what it means to live with hope in a world whose pains and brokenness seem to mock the light. How does waiting change us when it seems to so easily frustrate us? How can we embrace the discipline of waiting with whole-heartedness, when the world around us invites us to immediacy and escape? What does it mean to move beyond the simple phrase “already and not yet” and live in the tension of mature hope for what is to come?

Week Three: Bearing the Wait

Having shaped us with the longing for what is to come, the calendar turns us toward the story of Bethlehem. A woman, a man, a child. Together, we’ll lean into the stories of Mary, Joseph, and what it meant to bear the promise of God without truly understanding what the fulfillment would look like. As Mary bore Jesus, so we bear the hope of God into the world—and that isn’t without its struggles with belief, its sleepless nights, or the continual wondering of “when, Lord”? How do we wait well for Christ to be born in us again, even when we know it will rearrange everything?

Week Four: Wait Less

“While they were there, the time came…” (Luke 2:6a)

This is how the Messiah arrives into our world. The wait is over. The time, it says in Luke, actually came. This is what makes the wait worth it. That, someday, somehow, while we are traveling or attending to important paperwork or simply living our lives amidst the wait, the time actually comes. The labor of delivery is not announced with angels, or attended by shepherds. Instead, the time suddenly, quietly, arrives. As Mary’s body gave the first signs of labor, did she wonder at the truly normal, human way that Christ was slipping into the world, into our stories? Into the very normal realities of our lives, the gift is given. When we have been waiting for so long, what does it look like to truly receive? How does this infant Christ soften us, bless us, to receive a gift we can’t even fully comprehend?

Week Five: The Wait Is… Over?

Christmas begins on December 25, it doesn’t end there. And the celebration of the Messiah come to us, the saving work of God made flesh, invites us to cross over into a new land of hope and promise. Yet, the season of celebration isn’t without its complications. What does it mean to step into the promise of Emmanuel, God With Us, knowing that all of our desires are not yet satisfied? That there is still waiting? Whether it was a family celebration that went wrong, the gifts that failed to satiate us, or the pain that continues the world around, we all experience the “let down” after commercial Christmas. How does God shape our Christmas season into something different, something that acknowledges our struggles but calls out into real celebration? How can we fully celebrate what is—and call that good—when it isn’t what will be? How do we inhabit the sacred time of Christmas to experience the reality that the wait is truly over—or is it?

Week Six: Worth Your Wait In Gold

Epiphany means revelation, a moment of sudden insight, a manifestation of the divine. Celebrated on January 6, Epiphany is the official end of the Christmas season, and the beginning of all that is to come. Epiphany celebrates the revelation of Christ as the beloved of God, and in Epiphany we experience that revelation ourselves. We are the beloved of God. We are chosen, called forth, anointed, blessed. How then, do we live? How is our waiting transformed in love? How do we let Love lead?

 

 

 

 

Levels of Participation

Level One:

You want in, but you know that weekly calls aren’t feasible for you—you’re in Australia, or you have a two-month old, or you just hate the idea of showing up in a group call (you’re too much of an introvert for that.) You also aren’t into online communities, or just need to detox from social media, or need this to be a more private journey. At this level you’ll have access to the weekly emails and daily Scripture readings. If you need it, you’ll also be able to email an experienced spiritual director to talk about your experience of the season. Your director will always respond within 48 hours of your correspondence.

What You Get:

• A weekly email connecting you to the season, the Scriptures and prayer practices to experience the presence of God in this waiting season
• Daily Scripture readings connected to the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany to keep you grounded, right in your inbox
• Access to a spiritual director to answer questions, maintain presence and pray for you (read more about spiritual direction here)

Cost: $98 + applicable taxes for your area

Register Here:




After registration, please send an email to tara@anamcara.com.

Level Two:

You know the value of online community, and you’re longing for real encounter and transformation. Doing it by yourself just isn’t working any more. You’re longing to climb out of the modern, Western idea that we have to do it on our own, and into the Hebraic understanding that there is no “I” without “us”.  At this level, you’ll have access to all the resources of Level One (weekly emails, daily Scriptures, and regular access to a spiritual director), but you’ll also be participating in a private online group through the Ruzuku platform, moderated by our spiritual director, with guided questions to interact with the community and find ways to walk this season out together. You’ll have access to extra resources not included in the emails, and form friendships with like-souled pilgrims.

What You Get:

• A weekly email connecting you to the season, the Scriptures and prayer practices to experience the presence of God in this waiting season
• A private online community to process and journey alongside inside the Ruzuku platform
• Daily Scripture readings connected to the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany to keep you grounded, right in your inbox
• Access to a spiritual director to answer questions, maintain presence and pray for you (read more about spiritual direction here)
• Resources explaining the history and traditions of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany

Cost: $125 + applicable taxes for your area

Register Here:




After registration, please send an email to tara@anamcara.com
so you can be added to the appropriate online group.

Level Three:

You know the value of online community, and you just want more. In this season where we experience Light in the darkest time of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), you want to be able to see the faces and hear the voices of those who understand what it is to walk in the dark, bearing the light.  At this level, you’ll have access to all the resources of Level Two (weekly emails, daily Scriptures, and regular access to a spiritual director), but you’ll also be participating in weekly Fuze calls with the group, times set aside for us to practice the Presence together, to lean into Scripture and each other’s hearts. All the Fuze calls will be recorded so that you can have access to them for a year after the course ends.

Please note: This level will only be offered if at least five participants are registered. If you register for this level and less than the minimum requirement is met, you will have the option of either a refund of the difference between Level Two and Level Three or a one-hour private spiritual direction session with the course’s guiding spiritual director.

What You Get:

• A weekly email connecting you to the season, the Scriptures and prayer practices to experience the presence of God in this waiting season
• A private online community to process and journey alongside in the Ruzuku platform
• Daily Scripture readings connected to the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany to keep you grounded, right in your inbox
• Access to a spiritual director to answer questions, maintain presence and pray for you (read more about spiritual direction here)
• Weekly hour and a half group Fuze calls with the community, recorded and available for an entire year after the course ends
• Resources explaining the history and traditions of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany

Cost: $165 + applicable taxes for your area

Register Here:




After registration, please send an email to tara@anamcara.com
so you can be added to the appropriate online group.

Other Details & Early Bird Bonus:

If you register by November 15, you’ll receive an early bird gift of a free eBook of family practices for the 12 days of Christmas and other great resources for your journey with Christ.

Please note this is a co-ed retreat.

Questions? Want to know more?

Email Tara at tara@anamcara.com.

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