Advent Retreat – Longing and Advent


In most years Advent is a season that passes almost unnoticed amidst the frantic rush to be ready for Christmas. An Advent calendar may be our only nod to those weeks that are intended to prepare us not only for Christmas but for the future coming of Christ into the world. This year, however, is very different. The whole tone of Advent chimes well with how most of us are feeling. It is full of the language of longing, of yearning for a better future and for the end of exile. This sense is perhaps most powerfully expressed in some of our Advent hymns; ‘Come thou long expected Jesus’; ‘The Lord will come and not be slow’; Hark a thrilling voice is sounding’ and ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel ‘with its specific reference to ‘captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here.’

The material in the Units that follow aim to help you to explore your own longings, for yourself, on behalf of others and the world, and for God. Then we relate those to the great themes of Advent.

Longing and exile can be painful so be gentle with yourself as you make these explorations. Sometimes comfort can be drawn from the fact that others have experienced and are experiencing similar things. Perhaps the most famous example in the Bible is the song of the Israelites in exile in Babylon.


Psalm 137

In this prayer the ‘strange land’ of the Jews’ exile could well also be our present situation as we continue to face the Coronavirus pandemic.


God of our pilgrimage,
you sent your Son to our strange land
to bring us home to you;
give us your songs to sing,
that even in our exile
we may be filled with the breath of the Spirit
of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


O come, O come Emmanuel