An Advent of Change
Henri Nouwen once wrote, “…to pray is to change” and then he asked, “Why would you want to
do that?” Nouwen named what we all know: change is hard. Even when we are instigating
change in our own lives, under our own direction, change is difficult and complicated. I wonder
if we might consider this same axiom and question about change in our Advent journey. In
other words, to enter Advent is to change… why would you want to do that?
Consider the stories of Advent. First we find John the Baptist out in wilderness calling people to
repent and be different. That’s change of a religious, ethical, and moral sense. We have
Zechariah’s temple experience leading to a physical change as he becomes mute. Elizabeth
and Mary also experience physical change as they carry children in their wombs. The
shepherds change is geographical. Invited by the angel they make a journey of promise.
I am convinced that these changes are also, and absolutely, spiritual because, as in Nouwen’s
vein, they are all changed in who they are relative to Jesus. John the Baptist will ultimately
prepare the way of the Lord, baptize Jesus, and name him as the one who is greater.
Zechariah’s inability to speak forced him into a position to listen to the new thing that God was
going to do. Elizabeth would be the first witness to the not-yet-to-be born Jesus. Mary would
have to ponder the news that she received and then she would proclaim that her son would
bring justice and equity. The shepherds would witness Jesus’ birth and be sent out to share the
At Chrysalis we are committed to helping clergy work through the changes that life presents.
Sometimes those are vocational. Sometimes those are spiritual. Sometimes those have to do
with wellness and mental health. No matter what, we are here to help.
In this Advent season, as you light candles, hear the stories of the incarnation, and stand as a
witness to the light that is coming into the world, we hope that you find Joy, Peace, Hope, and
Love—as a way to change.
On Advent Watch,
The Chrysalis Team