HOW DO WE WAIT FAITHFULLY for God in the wilderness? The prophet Isaiah says, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.”
We pave a straight path for God through acts of kindness, justice, generosity, and compassion. When we love, God will come. “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me,” John says.
As sure as a baby’s birth in a manger, a God will walk the path laid out. Love will encompass our world.
Baby of the manger, may each act of kindness be a straw in your crib, preparing the way for your coming. Amen.
– Frank Rogers Jr.
IN THE SEASON OF ADVENT we are asked to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ, for this manifestation of God in human form. What Christmas proclaims to us is that God was willing to close the gap between divinity and humanity by entering into the human experience, becoming one of us, knowing hunger and thirst, friendship and betrayal, hope and loss, and the agony of death. It’s a lot to take in, the implications of God incarnate. And because we can’t take it in all at once, by participating in the seasons of the church year we have the opportunity to take up the idea again and again as the season rolls around to Advent.
We imagine the birth of Jesus, the smells and sounds of the stable, the brightness of the star, the vulnerability of the baby, and the wonder of the shepherds. The temptation is to stop there and move on, to turn the Nativity into a sentimental tableau that has little meaning for the rest of our lives.
But if we study this idea of incarnation – of Jesus being fully human and fully divine – we must consider that this event comes about because God is trying to tell us something, show us something about God’s nature and our nature, about divinity and humanity and the intersection of those two realms.
born of fertile wonder,
belabored by narrowed hope;
craning curious lives forward,
drawing in the lonely and longing.
You are imagination’s sister
and the brother of holy surprise.Come, startle awake
our dozing apathy, our complacent dreams,
that we may behold your borning Advent cry.
–Prayer by Pam Hawkins
IN GOD’S PEACE, power and vulnerability lie together. This peace does not ignore conflict or difference; rather, in this peace the vulnerability in power and the power of vulnerability become companions. Neither threatens the other; instead, the friendship of power and vulnerability transforms expected hostilities into deep, deep peace. When we read these ancient words, we can feel it: This peace is what God means for our lives.
Spirit of the Lord, disciple us in the ways that lead to your holy mountain. We pray now for our enemies, whom we name in our hearts. We pray for ourselves, that we may transform our hostilities and fears into an openness to your possibilities. Where there seems to be no way, help us find the way. Amen.
DO OUR ADVENT LIVES stand up against the ways of the world? Are we already so consumed with Christmas, even now in the first week of Advent, that we neglect taking time to live fully into the meaning and experience of the coming of Christ?
It is not yet Christmas but Advent. This is a season in which we have time to anticipate the full story and meaning of Immanuel – God-with-Us – if we will take that time and use it well.
Take a walk through your home, room by room, and say an Advent blessing in each space, something simple like “O come, O come, Immanuel” or “Come, Lord Jesus.” Take your time, imagining how you will live in this time and place over the next few weeks in ways that could help you not hurry to Christmas.
I WANT TO BE AT PEACE, O God,
protector of the frightened,
refuge for the wandering.
I want to speak for peace, O Christ,
hope whispered to the bruised,
wecome sung to the embattled.
I want to live in peace, O Spirit,
forgiveness in my heart,
kindness in my hands;
I want to be at peace, O God
This is my Advent prayer. Amen.
– Pamela C. Hawkins
GRANT US WISDOM and courage this week:
to be open to your surprises, O God;
to taste and see your presence in new ways;
to trust that you will do good and joyful things in our lives
and in the world.
– Jan Johnson