Monday, November 30, 2015

Advent 2015

"Arise, Shine"


             One of my favorite verses of prophecy is found in Isaiah 60:1: "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you" (rsv).  Or, as The Message renders this passage:  "Get out of bed, Jerusalem!  Wake up.  Put your face in the sunlight.  God's bright glory has risen for you."  Indeed!  What an amazing announcement...and you and I are invited to the celebration.

             First, however, there's a time of preparation, for Advent is about waiting.  Alas, most of us don't handle waiting well.  I've never found waiting in a list of spiritual disciplines, but perhaps it should be included.  However, as others have pointed out, the season leading us to Bethlehem is also pregnant with possibility.  (How could we think about a trip to Bethlehem without being reminded of pregnancy?)  I've been considering those possibilities, and what I have to share with readers is a personal list of resolutions for Advent 2015.

Contemplate mystery.  Expect miracles.  In an age of rational inquiry, these are not easy habits to cultivate.  This Advent, revel in signs and wonders:  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  The Word dwells among us right here and now!

Light candles, literally and metaphorically.  Reflect the Light of the World.  In the darkest time of the year, be a light to others.  Offer encouragement.  Be a good listener.  Smile more.  Be genuinely available to someone in need.  Remember the words of the prophet, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light"  (Isaiah 9:2 isv).

Cultivate a longing for God.  Don't get caught up longing for the "perfect" celebration or the "perfect" gift for friends and family.  Don't long for stuff or even for security.  Remember the words of Augustine:  "You made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

Spend time in prayer.  Say less, hear more.  Spend more time in gratitude, petition less.  Light a candle, open the heart's door.  Express gratitude.  Wait to "hear" God.  Listen for the still, small voice.  In God Is in the Manger, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "Remember all those who passed Jesus by without recognizing him.  Pray that doesn't happen     to us..."

Practice patience.  Work, love, serve while waiting.  Barbara Brown Taylor, formerly pastor of an Episcopal parish in North Georgia writes, "At Advent, we are invited, not only to wait for Christmas morning, but also to wait and discern how we can partner with the work

God is already doing in our midst to repair, heal, and transform         this world."

Look for the ordinary in holiness and for the holy in everyday life.  Look for rainbows in mud puddles.  Look for a star.  Look for the door to the manger.  Look for Christ's return.

  Laugh.  Wait.  Rejoice.  Arise.  Shine! 

- Ashley Williams


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