Posts tagged ‘Advent’

Fourth Week of Advent

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1:46-55 NRSV)

With Christmas itself only a few days away, it seems as if the the themes of Advent — waiting and preparation — should be finished with. For many this can be such a busy week, getting ready to have guests, or traveling somewhere where they will be a guest, that contemplation falls by the wayside. But we should consider the words of Mary in the Magnificat. Faced with the news of God’s incredible grace and blessing bestowed upon her, the knowledge of what part she had to play in God’s plans, the young Jewish girl — from a place that the world didn’t see as important — glorified Him. In these last days before Christmas, each of can take the time to consider the grace bestowed on us, and the role we may have in God’s plans.

Third Week of Advent

“to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

As the Advent season comes to its fulfillment, it’s appropriate to reflect on what we are anticipating and to be thankful. It is with gratitude that we should realize that Jesus still comes into the lives of the plain and ordinary people of this world, people like the sheperds to whom the angels appeared. Shepherds were not astrophysicists! They weren’t high paid web designers, or Nobel Prize winners, or famous writers. They were common folk, whose lives were filled with menial tasks and significant challenges. That sounds like a lot of people I know — starting with myself.

To paraphrase Walt Kelly: “we have met the shepherds and they are us.” The sheperds weren’t unique or extraordinary, but God chose them to reveal the greatest gift He ever gave – as he chose you and me.  “to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior …” I know for a fact that there are many among my own circle of church and family and friends for whom life is hard. Perhaps it is so for as well, and perhaps you wonder if God listens to your prayers. That makes you a member of the shepherd’s union, and for you also a Savior has been born.

Advent and Waiting

You probably hear it every day:

“I can’t wait to get off work.”

“I can’t wait for Friday.”

“I can’t wait for that big sale.”

Our culture doesn’t much care for waiting. A sense of anticipation does not seem to be much savored these days. Yet for Christians, we are in a season of the year in which we should savor our sense of anticipation. Advent is by its nature a season that is marked by waiting. We wait for Christmas day, the celebration of the Incarnation; this is as it should be, for historically God’s people waited for centuries for the Savior that had been promised.

The amazing thing about waiting during Advent is this: it allows us just a tiny glimpse into “what if?” As in: what if swords really became plow-shares? What if dead roots sprout and grow into living trees? What if lions and lambs lay down together?What if deserts bloom? What if the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute sing, and the virgin conceives a child? What if God became just like you and me? More than 2,000 years ago, He did just that, and now our waiting is transformed. We wait for Him to return in glory, that all the rest might be fulfilled as well.

Waiting is essential to the spiritual life.  But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting.  It is waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for.  We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus.  We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the Ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory.  We are always waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps.

Waiting for God is an active, alert — yes, joyful — waiting.  As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.

Henri Nouwen

 

First Sunday of Advent

Today marks the first Sunday of Advent. It was wonderful to have one of the families in our church light the first candle of the Advent wreath, as well as lead the church in a reading. I came across this little gem by Robert Louis Stevenson, which I think beautifully captures the reason we have a season of Advent to prepare us for the celebration of Christ’s birth.

Loving Father,
help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing
which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning
make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus’ sake.
Amen.

– Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)

 

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