Advent: Four Elements of “Wait Training”

In the previous post, we heard from Pastor Rich Villodas as he taught us about how Advent is a season for “Wait Training.” In part two of his article, originally published at Missio Alliance, we now look at four practical ways we can learn to bear fruit in our spiritual lives as we wait during this season.

By Rich Villodas

Four Important Elements of Waiting

1. Reflective Prayer

Henri Nouwen has said, “Active waiting is waiting that pays attention, is fully present to what is really going on, even when to all outward appearances, nothing is going on.”

One of the primary ways of this kind of waiting that pays attention is in reflective prayer. Prayer is not simply articulating our needs before God. It’s also making ourselves available for God to articulate his movements before us.

Advent is a season of waiting in a posture of prayerful attention. It’s often when we get silent that we can finally begin to trace God’s movements in our lives.

2. Friends on the Journey

Waiting is much easier when done in community. This is one of the reasons Jesus asked his disciples to join him as he awaited his death (unfortunately they fell asleep on him!). Advent is a reminder that waiting is a communal act.

Mary and Elizabeth wait together.

Simeon and Anna wait in community.

The people of God expectantly waited together.

Advent is an invitation to seek out friends on the journey who will help us process, discern and sit in silence with us as we discern God’s activity.

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3. The Hearing of the Gospel Preached

As we wait, our souls need to be grounded in hope that comes from the proclamation of the gospel. We each need a word spoken to us regularly that reminds us of God’s faithful coming in Jesus.

Sunday worship is not a time to get religious goodies and head home. It’s an opportunity to open ourselves to God’s creative word, which is to anchor us in a story that is often at odds with the stories we tell ourselves.

4. Waiting is an Active Activity 

To wait on the Lord doesn’t mean inactivity. It doesn’t mean a refusal to take initiative, or to seek and search for opportunities (a new job, a romantic relationship, etc.). Rather, it’s a refusal to move without connecting our lives to God in prayer and reflection, first and often.

Eugene Peterson has said, “Waiting in prayer is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts.”

Sometimes waiting on the Lord means “staying put” in a particular situation until you get further instructions. At other times, it requires us to move forward—but in a way that is grounded in prayer.

Ultimately, to wait on the Lord is a way of life that comes against our tendencies to be impulsive, to be anxiously reactive, and wise in our own eyes.

If decisions are being made that are anxiously reactive and impulsive, chances are we need some practice in waiting on the Lord.

Advent reminds us that God has come, is coming, and will come again. It’s a great opportunity to train our souls in waiting.

This article was originally published at: Missio Alliance.

Advent: A Season of “Wait Training”

By Rich Villodas (originally published on Missio Alliance)

There’s nothing that unites us in the experience of being human quite like waiting. No matter our age, our education, our accomplishments, or time spent following Jesus, we will have to wait.

This is why the Advent season is necessary for the shaping of our lives.

Each of the seasons of the Liturgical Calendar leads us in paying particular attention to Christian themes and practices. Lent reminds us, among many things, to place God’s way—and not our appetites—as the guiding principle for our lives. Eastertide calls us to live a spirituality of feasting and joy anchored in Christ’s resurrection. Pentecost gives us a vision of life filled with God’s power because the Spirit has been poured out on us.

The Advent season is one in which God trains us in waiting.

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Wait Training

This training is oriented towards the formation of our lives because what God does in us as we wait is more important than what we are waiting for.

Many of the stories of scripture point to the excruciating pain and trouble experienced by the people of God because of their refusal to wait for God. This has been our story to this day.

For example, in Exodus 32 (the story of the golden calf), the Israelites, in a moment of anxiety, impulsively fashion an idol to provide security for themselves because Moses was nowhere to be found. This idol creation came days after God informed them that this kind of religious practice was off limits now that they were delivered from Pharaoh.

Anxiety will make us do irrational things.

Their waiting was difficult because they couldn’t see what God was up to. 

It’s hard for us to wait—and not just because we are impatient.

It’s hard to wait because we often don’t believe God is at work in our lives.

But Advent reminds us that God has come, is coming, and will come again. It’s the annual reminder that God is for creation and moves towards us.

Even so, it’s hard to wait. One of the primary reasons it’s hard to wait is because our understanding of waiting has been incomplete.

As a pastor, I’m frequently asked to help people understand what it means to wait on the Lord. In the next post I will share four elements that I have learned along the way about WAITING. 

40 Days Praying for the City – 2019

On January 1st, 2019 we start 40 Days Praying for the City, we invite you to join this movement so God can bring a genesis to our cities!

Download HERE the 40 days complete calendar and share it!

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Don’t forget to visit our website: mesoamericagenesis.org and follow us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).

Help for Migrants in Mexico

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In October more than 7,000 children, women, men and older adults from Honduras started a journey that has taken several weeks.  Recently people from other countries have also joined them as they have traversed from the south border of Mexico to the north in order to eventually arrive in the United States. They have left their countries because of the reality of violence and poverty that confronted them there. 

The Church of the Nazarene has responded to a variety of the caravan’s different needs through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, and have fulfilled the call of God to freely give what we have freely received. 

Click on the video below to see how the Church has mobilized to help in the past  month:

Prayer Requests – Grenada

As we met recently with Crystalla Williams and Cleon Cadogan, closing out their time in Grenada as missionaries with Genesis, they shared the following prayer requests.  Please accompany them in this transition time as they pray for the people and places they have left and prepare for the new doors God will open for them as they return home:

Prayer Requests

For the Fontenoy Church of the Nazarene

1) For Pastor Alvin Forsyth, Min. Elizabeth Forsyth, Natisha Benjamin (daughter and church board secretary), Alvonn and Kareem Forsyth (not yet Christians).

2) For the Church Board: that there will be commitment to their calls and that they would function in their ministry rolls with excellence and passion.

3) For church members: that they would grow in faith, love and unity and that everyone will rise up to do, be and go.

4) For the youth of the community: that they would find direction amidst a confusing and manipulating world.

5) For evangelism and discipleship to become engrained in the church’s DNA.

6) For greater opportunities to minister in the community.

7) For the new community (Concord) we began working in at the end of May.  Pray that persons will stand up and walk into the graces that God has called them to.

8) For financial stability.

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For the Content Church of the Nazarene, officially organized August 13, 2017

1) For the pastor and his family: Alister Douglas, Lorraine Douglas and their children (one of whom is in medical school).

2) For the work of God to continue to grow in their community.

3) That, as the only church in that neighborhood, God will use them to transform a whole community.

4) For them to become a church-planting church within the next 2-3 years.

5) That land becomes available for the building of a sanctuary.

6) For the youth in the community to find purpose and strength in God.

7) That discipling of the new believers will be thorough and that they will understand who they are in Christ and as Nazarenes.

Personal Prayer Requests of Cleon and Crystalla:

1) That persons ministered to in Grenada will continue to grow in Christ.

2) For an easy transition back into life at home.

3) For their families, who have greatly missed them in their absence.

4) For a job to support housing and living expenses.

5) For all their relationships.

6) For a door to open for them to continue studying other cultures and languages.

7) That God would provide mentors for those that they are leaving behind in Grenada.

8) For their home churches and countries: that the transition back into ministry will be smooth.

The Church is Praying

Throughout the Mesoamerica region NMI is mobilizing the church in prayer, inside and outside the church building, the place is not important. God is blessing His church through prayer! 

Seventy members from six different churches in the Veracruz Central Zone in the Mexico Gulf District gathered on Sept. 1 at the House of Prayer Mission for a special time of prayer.

They prayed for pastors and leaders in the zone, their district, the Mesoamerica Region, missionaries, Genesis Project participants, safety and their government. They also took time to anoint those who were ill.

The event happened as a result of an invitation from Nazarene Missions International (NMI) in the Veracruz Zone to the local churches to share a time of prayer and breakfast together. Since the space was small, they moved outside to an area that the locals call The Lakes, where they held the prayer meeting in the open air.

Each church brought an assigned dish. The full group closed the activity by eating together and sharing a time of fellowship.

“We thank God for the chance He gave us to hold this event that strengthened the bonds between brothers,” said Carlos G. Quijano, a Global NMI Council member who represents the Mesoamerica Region.

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This article was originally published at: Church of the Nazarene Mesoamerica

The Power of Prayer and Presence

By Cheryl Paden

Valerie joined our writers’group with the enthusiasm of a bee after nectar. She instantly became everyone’s encourager and energized us to write and to send out our work for publication. We rejoiced with her when she published her first article, and we thanked God for the birth of her long-awaited son, Jack.

Jack was six weeks old when doctors diagnosed Valerie with cancer. We all began to pray for healing. She started treatment and suffered from the side effects. After losing her hair, she glued sequins onto an oversized pink handkerchief. She bounced into our writers’ group that night and announced, “No one will notice that I am bald, they will only see my beautiful new bandana.”

We laughed as we watched her exaggerated modeling techniques and admired her new look.

At the close of the evening Valerie added, “I feel a cold coming on; as long as we are praying to heal the cancer, pray for that too. Might as well pray to heal everything.”

We agreed, and our praying continued.

We attended our annual writers’ group retreat at the St. Benedict Retreat Center. Valerie left the meeting to go visit with Father Thomas, the retreat center’s director. She explained that she wanted to ask him for prayers for her healing. As Valerie and I walked together that evening she confided, “I can just feel the love of everyone’s prayers. It is an amazing feeling. It’s wonderful!”

Valerie’s condition continued to worsen. We continued to pray, but the miracle we asked for would not happen. I called Valerie to ask what I could do. “Just come hold my hand.”

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So I did. I sat at her bedside and held her hand. She whispered to me about her fears of leaving two-year-old Jack.
Valerie died the next day. Our writers’ group attended the funeral. The prayers for healing—at least our idea of complete, physical healing—were not answered.

Valerie’s words, “I can feel the love,” I believe was God’s response to our prayers. Our requested miracle of healing was not answered, but we loved our friend through her illness, and I believe she knew that.

Years later, when I suffered from my own illness, I spent time in the emergency room, doctors’ offices, and completing medical tests. Unable to attend work, social functions, or keep to my regular routine, I sat at home, fretted, and waited for medical answers. For that entire month, no one knew the details of my situation.

Then I remembered Valerie’s words.

I went to my keyboard and emailed every friend that I knew to be a prayer warrior and asked for prayers. By that afternoon, the burden of the illness had lifted. I still did not have the medical answers, but I felt the love of God and of my friends.

Through shared prayers and through simple presence, I learned the significance of what Valerie conveyed to us: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

This article was originally published at: graceandpeacemagazine.org