Advent Meditation for Dec. 21: Imagining the Heavenly Host

Advent Meditation for Dec. 21: Imagining the Heavenly Host December 21, 2018

The imaginative prayer practices with passages from Luke take us back to the fields to experience the heavenly host, to enter the scene for ourselves.As we continue our Advent imagination prayer with Luke’s birth narrative, we spend more time today with the shepherds, angel and the multitude of the heavenly host.

Imagination prayer has a long history. St. Ignatius of Loyola built his Spiritual Exercises — a set of meditations, reflections and practices to draw a person’s heart deeper toward Christ — on imagination prayers. He invites us to become part of the scene as our minds imagine what it might have been like in Jesus’ time.

The Practice

Luke 2: 12-14

This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favors!”

  • Take a few moments to become quiet inside. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you become aware of God’s presence in your imagination.
  • Enter the scene. Become any character you desire — a shepherd, an angel, a passerby — someone in the story or a character you create. Or you can choose to just be yourself in the scene.
  • Notice where you are — in the fields tending the sheep or near enough to watch the scene unfold.
  • There is an angel announcing the coming of the Christ. Visualize this angel.
  • Suddenly with this angel is a whole group of heavenly entities. They are all praising God. You listen as they say or sing their words of praise.
  • Imagine this multitude milling about the fields with you and the shepherds.
  • What do you feel inspired to say or do? Start a conversation with one of them? Stand by and gaze at the scene without using words? How do you respond to this glorious multitude?
  • When you are ready, thank all the shepherds, angels and heavenly host for their part in this story. End by spending a few moments in gratitude to God for this experience of prayer.

For more about spiritual direction as I practice it, check out my website. Most of these prayer practices come from my book, “50 Ways to Pray.” If interested, it can be purchased here.

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