On this First Sunday of Advent, we begin our annual journey toward the Birth of Jesus. Let us pray that it is more than sentimentality and historical remembrance. Let us pray that there is a part of each of us that is willing to be awakened to the power of the presence of Jesus in our day and age.
It’s tempting to go in the same safe direction with Advent. Light the Advent wreath candles and open the windows of our Advent calendars. Listen to the prophecies that give announcement of the one to come. It’s possible to do all these things and to still remain on the surface. Why bother with all this if we are not going to encounter the true mysteries that our faith avails to us during this season?
What difference does it make in your life that the person of Jesus Christ became flesh and lived in our world? This God who became flesh had to face not being welcome among the powerful and important, even in His birth. He and His family had to run for their lives and become strangers and aliens, fearing for their lives. He kept company with the lowly and forsaken, finding power in the washing of feet and loving those who hated Him. He chose again and again to include rather than exclude, to stand with sinners and the ostracized. How can we dive below the surface and truly enter into the mystery of preparing for the God made flesh?
Is there the possibility that our quarantines, our separations and our losses have prepared us for a deeper Advent than ever before? Have you awakened to the gift of life more than ever before? Do you have a craving for entering back into social situations and gatherings? Are you hungry for those reconnections just out of frustration or do you see deeper possibilities? What more is possible in your life than was possible before all this that we have been through?
If you have noticed the pain of absence, then we might all be able to dream of the power of lives being reconnected. It can be much more than breaking free. It could be the birth of Jesus in us as we believe more deeply in the power of each life lived to its fullest. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus into His family, what can be done to make our family blessed by our presence? Jesus gives us examples of the power of one life and love. Are you still believing that your life has the power to make a difference? How can we prepare to do that?
Mark the weeks of Advent by refusing to despair and continue to choose hope. These are the times that test our faith. Can you believe even when you don’t see the fruit of your belief? Can you choose to love even when others might tempt you to hate? Can you practice prayer, especially praying the daily Scriptures of the season, to move through this season with expectation and joy? As the Prophet Isaiah writes, “would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways.”
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.
Sunday, Nov. 29
Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7
Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9