Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I love Advent

O Come O Come Emmanuel - Trace Bundy and Josh Garrels

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

That exciting time of waiting

I love Advent buttonIn Reaching Out Henri Nouwen asks if we can "carry the burden of reality", remain open to tragedy and suffering, and not become mentally paralyzed and depressed. He later answers in part:
...life can teach us that although the events of the day are out of our hands, they should never be out of our hearts, that instead of becoming bitter our lives can yield to the wisdom that only from the heart a creative response can come forth.
And how will that creative response come forth? Advent is teaching me this year that the waiting is an important step toward the coming forth. I think carrying the burden of reality is a moment by moment process in which I become open and keep from shutting down. Solutions are not instant. God is continually at work even in the waiting whether I recognize it or not. In whatever our situation might be, we each have our own burden of reality to bear. I'm guessing that like me, you are longing for something, waiting for resolution, hoping for healing, praying for an answer. The nature of events or facts contributing to our financial, material, or emotional welfare, or that of a loved one, may not see a sudden shift, but within the empty place of expectancy there is a story.

I think of Zachariah, an old man who had waited a long time. Perhaps his hope that he would be a father was wavering. As we read the story of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to him that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son, we can jump ahead to the fulfillment of the reality of his hope. We can see how close it was to him, even at the time of his reluctance to believe. There was promise in the unfolding story. "You will have joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord...With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." The magnitude of what was about to happen was beyond Zachariah's grasp, but in spite of his feelings, God was present in that moment.

In spite of real circumstances causing our own instinctive feelings of abandonment, discouragement, loss of hope, dullness, or impatience, etc., today in this moment, couldn't there be a real story of salvation, a story of promise, a story of hope unfolding? God is present in this moment. That makes the empty place of expectancy more like a place that is housing a gift. Within the waiting there is a story.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Help Wanted

I love Advent
Wanted: relief from discontent.
Wanted: patience and perspective.
Wanted: joy and peace.

Plenty is happening in our world to cause anxiety. The globe is racked with the pain of injustice, poverty, environmental concerns, health conditions, and lack of peace. I want to know the best ways to enter into God's redemptive solutions. I don't want to be indifferent, nor do I want to be paralyzed by discouragement and fear. Because I suffer from perfectionism I can be acutely aware of things that are not quite "right." When things go south I want to fix them. Now. Personally, there are places in my own emotional and physical geography that are out of whack and beyond my control. But should there be such discontent in my soul? Is there a way to be present, stay involved, and remain hopeful? Here's where the wisdom of Advent needs to take effect. Here's where I need some sacred time each day to help in my heart's preparation. Perhaps in time it will even lead to sorting things out.

My mind and my heart need you, God.
Help me to prepare for your coming.
As I wait and become aware of my longing,
Guide me to a place of internal silence
And help me to listen for you, God.
Remind me that you came into the world
At a very bleak time, and that you are
Still coming into the world.