Monday, December 02, 2013

Advent: The Season of Blessed Paradox

Yesterday marked the beginning of Advent, that season of the liturgical year full of paradox.

Why do I say this? Well, think about it: Advent is all about waiting while journeying; being centered while engaged in preparations; and retreating inwards in anticipation of revolutionary transformation!

Now that Thanksgiving has past it's also that time of year for putting up Christmas decorations, which is exactly what my friend and housemate Tim and I did on Saturday afternoon when we set up and decorated our Christmas tree!

I therefore share in this post today some of the Advent thoughts I heard articulated yesterday at the Spirit of St. Stephen's Catholic Community . . . and some images of the Christmas tree that Tim and I decorated.

I start with the following reflection by Sr. Joan Chittister.

God is not in the whirlwind, not in blustering and show, Scripture teaches us. God is in the breeze, in the very atmosphere around us, in the little things that shape our lives.

God is in the contradictions that assail us, in the circumstances that challenge us . . . in the life goals that demonstrate our real aspirations, in the burdens that wear us down, in the actions that give witness to the values in our hearts.

God is in the stuff of life . . . God is where we are, including in the very weaknesses that vie for our souls.

God is not a mystery to be sought in strange places and arcane ways.

God is a mystery to be discovered within us and around us.

And savored.

Also shared yesterday at the Spirit of St. Stephen's was a wonderfully insightful and inspiring homily by one of our community members. Here's part of what was shared:

There are multiple references to the image of a thief breaking into a home throughout Scripture. It must have been a big problem and a bigger worry. Just the thought of it can bring an apprehensive shiver—that feeling of invasion, vulnerability and eroded trust. We who are blessed with wealth know that things can be replaced but feeling safe is harder to come by.

So, is God a thief, wanting to break in and startle us? Does God want us to be afraid? Of course not. God wants us to pay attention, to prepare, to be ready and awake.

Is God a thief? Of course. God is the thief who wants to break into our barricaded hearts and souls to shine the light of day on the treasures there. God is the thief who wants to steal our economy of war and death and dazzle us with the light of peace with justice. God is the thief who can wait no longer for an invitation but must be an intimate part of our lives—right now.

Joan Chittister says God is in the contradictions, the challenges, the burdens and the actions that give witness to the values in our heart. Simply put: God is where we are.

. . . Megan McKenna calls Advent the “guard dog” rousing us from our sound sleep. There is an intruder in our midst—wake up!

And do what?—Grab a weapon to defend ourselves, our loved ones? Run and hide? Melt into a puddle of fear?

No, the revolutionary call is to fling open all of the doors and the windows, light the lanterns and roll out the red carpet in welcome.

The intruder is the One we have been waiting for.

We would have missed it without the barking of Advent and our prophets and those who beg us to raise our voices with them for living wages and dignified working conditions, for just immigration processes, for housing that feels like home.

Come . . . let us walk in the light of hope and promise. Let us open the home of our heart willingly, putting thieves out of business. Let us be the evidence of peace for pilgrims climbing the holy mountain. Let us be always ready—more than ready, let us be longing—to approach the burning bush of God’s inviting presence.

Better still, let us light the fire of God’s glory and wisdom so that others are drawn to the Holy One’s warm love through our prayers and actions, through our lives of peace with justice.

Welcome to the revolution, fellow pilgrims! Blessed Advent to you.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Something to Cherish
Rejoice? (Advent 2012)
Advent 2011: Thoughts and Reflections (Part 1)
Advent 2011: Thoughts and Reflections (Part 2)
Advent 2011: Thoughts and Reflections (Part 3)
Advent 2011: Thoughts and Reflections (Part 4)
Thoughts on Waiting . . . and a Resolution
Advent: Renewing Our Connection with the Sacred
The Centered Life as an Advent Life
My Advent Prayer for the Church
Advent Thoughts
Letting God Loose
Mystics Full of God
Thoughts on Transformation (Part 1)
Thoughts on Transformation (Part 2)
Thoughts on Transformation (Part 3)
Christmas Baubles


Terry Nelson said...

Looks good. I have yet to do anything.

Kay said...

Advent is a mystery. It asks so little. Wait. Reflect. Go as deep into the mystery of you as you can. So often we miss this invitation. We miss God trying to self-invite God into our live. For God IS trying so hard to self invite into our lives to be a part of it and will take any "excuse"to be a part of it. Advent is that waiting, that mystery where we can look at ourselves to see where God is