24 November 2008
Church puts the ABC – Abbot, Bishop, and Canon - of waiting into wanting
To read a transcript of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Advent Videocast (Word doc), click here
Church leaders are encouraging people to rediscover the forgotten joys and deeper benefits of waiting for the things they want with the launch of an online Advent calendar produced by the Church of England. The calendar – launched today by an Abbot, a Bishop and a Canon Theologian inviting passers-by to join them in a ‘waiting room’ set up outside Westminster Abbey – is aimed at putting the waiting back into wanting as the countdown to Christmas begins.
Ready and Waiting: (L-R) Dr Paula Gooder; the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell; three tourists from the US; Christopher Jamison.
The website, www.WhyWeAreWaiting.com features an introductory film of the Archbishop of Canterbury and an Advent Calendar with a difference, made up of reflections, podcasts, waiting tips and a quiz on the social networking site Facebook.
Podcasts will include the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Dr John Sentamu, Oxford Professor of Psychology, Dr Mark Williams, TV presenter Mark Dowd of Operation Noah and theologian Dr Jane Williams.
Reflections are taken from three recently published books that all explore the theme of waiting. They are: Finding Happiness – Monastic Steps for Fulfilling Life by Christopher Jamison, Roman Catholic Abbot of Worth Abbey; Do Nothing: Christmas is Coming by the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Reading; and The Meaning is in the Waiting by Dr Paula Gooder, Canon Theologian at Birmingham Cathedral.
Through a series of seasonal hints the website suggests ways of waiting for your wallet, waiting for your soul and waiting for the environment.
Bishop Stephen Cottrell said: “This Advent Calendar is a timely resource as we approach Christmas in the credit crunch. It offers people a breathing space in what is often a busy and stressful time of year so we can all consider how best to use our resources.
“We hope the website reminds people that waiting is not a waste of time but, as we see in nature, a time of change, growth and transformation. Advent is the season in which the church celebrates waiting as an essential part of human experience – it is much more than the countdown to Christmas or the season of shopping.
“This website will remind people that having to wait for what you want isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes you realise you don't want it after all and save yourself some time and money. Other times, what you want is even more welcome for having had to wait.
“Many Advent calendars offer daily chocolate – what this website offers is a daily dose of chocolate for the soul.”
The www.WhyWeAreWaiting.com website, launched on November 24, begins on Sunday November 30 – Advent Sunday, when the season of Advent officially begins.
The three featured books are:
Do Nothing: Christmas is coming by Stephen Cottrell. Published by Church House Publishing (£4.99).
Following the popular success of Do Nothing to Change Your Life last year, Bishop Stephen Cottrell offers readers “another way of celebrating Christmas, where its joys and promises can help put life back together again” rather than risk it imploding with “all the conflicting demands and expectations” that the season can bring.
The book’s down-to-earth daily reflections take their cue from the trimmings and trappings of contemporary Christmas – from buying the turkey to the office Christmas party. But they are each given a twist, encouraging readers to consider their preparations for Christmas in ‘slow motion’: to take time out of the Advent rush to rediscover the real joys of the festival by taking time to look afresh at how to prepare, and wait patiently, for the celebration of Christ’s birth.
Finding Happiness – Monastic Steps for a Fulfilling Life by Abbot Christopher Jamison. Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (£12.99).
In Finding Happiness, Abbot Christopher takes different aspects of happiness, examines them, and tells us what monastic wisdom has to say about them. Our consumer culture encourages the belief that happiness comes with pleasure and this book challenges that belief. Just as there is fool’s gold, a natural but inauthentic material, so there is fool’s happiness. To understand the true meaning of the word, Abbot Christopher believes, is the first step on our journey towards finding it.
Sometimes we say someone’s “struggling with their demons”, a phrase coined by the first Christian monks and nuns to describe people working to resolve the causes of their unhappiness. Monastic wisdom still provides steps to help overcome these causes and help us move closer towards finding happiness, and here Abbot Christopher makes that wisdom accessible for people today.
The Meaning is in the Waiting by Dr Paula Gooder. Published by Canterbury Press (£8.99).
This is the first in a series of books commissioned in consultation with Dr John Sentamu. It can be described as ‘The Archbishop of York’s Advent book’. Its theme is overtly an Advent one, yet subsequent books will range over other biblical and seasonal topics. Paula Gooder provides a profoundly biblical guide to the season of Advent and explores its central theme of waiting (something we are not good at in our modern culture) in the company of the biblical characters who feature prominently in the lectionary readings for the season:
- Abraham and Sarah who waited for a child; Isaiah and the prophets who waited for judgement and redemption;
- John the Baptist whose role was to wait in the wilderness until the prophecies he foretold were realized;
- Mary whose waiting began in pregnancy and continued as she stood at the foot of the cross.
Arranged for daily reading, this offers an exquisite meditation on the spirituality of waiting – the active doing of nothing – as a way of enhancing our lives and bringing us closer to God.
A podcast interview with Dr Paula Gooder, recorded at the launch of www.whywearewaiting.com, is available here.