Thursday, December 11, 2014

Advent 2014

I am quite sure that I am not ready for Advent!  This fall has had so much going on that I can barely summon the memories.  My children might account for that due to my aging.  They may be well be right!
In my defence these last months really have been a very full time for St. Barnabas.  And, of course, they have culminated in the greatly successful Holly Tea and Bazaar.  What a wonderful event brought about by so many hard working “St. Barnabites,” and friends, under the capable leadership of Donna Wright.
But there is no getting around my feeling that I am not ready for Advent.  If Advent is a time to prepare then I suppose you might say that I am not even ready to prepare to be ready.  Thank God for that little booklet of meditations by Henri Nouwen!
However, to be blunt, when I looked them over a couple of months ago I thought they looked ok and would be “nice” to read when the time came.  I had no idea how much I would truly require them.  We are less than a week into Advent and already they have helped me see just how great is my need to stop and meditate on the One for whom we prepare and wait.
I need them to help me stop bouncing from one duty to another.  To help me see beyond the unwarranted expectations both of myself and others. Perhaps above all to enable me to transform my busyness in to readiness.  I was shocked at how today’s meditation literally grabbed my racing mind and allowed me to see how fractured my thinking had become, and how I must slow down.
We are a culture of full blown hurriedness with a paradoxical emptiness. I wonder if that emptiness may be seen in the growing number of adults who are stricken with depression in Ontario, as well as an alarming number of teenagers who also suffer from the same condition.  In this morning’s reading I was reminded of just how easy it is for life to overwhelm.
Despite my earlier statement about my lack of readiness I am aware of how crucial it is for us to prepare for the One who can bring us the gifts we need, especially when feeling overwhelmed.  I am returning now to times to pause and look for the One whose presence will bring us those four things we anticipate during Advent: Hope, peace, joy, and love. 
But I have to let go of the inconsequential things which can prevent me from seeing how indispensable hope, peace, joy, and love truly are to us.  I must strive to imagine what I would be like if I embodied them more fully in my life.  And perhaps try to share of such things with others as I tentatively strive to embrace them more fully each day.
I am so thankful for Advent. 
I am so thankful for being drawn away from those things which can so easily eclipse what is important and leave us without fullness of meaning in life. 
I hope you will spend time preparing for God’s wondrous gift for us – Jesus.  I know He is always with us but life seems to insidiously conspire to overshadow His presence in our lives with so many other less important things.  That is why we must deliberately and collectively remind ourselves how vital it is for us to prepare to meet once again, “a living force which sustains us in the present.[1] 
We must pry open our hearts to welcome Him back and rediscover what it feels like to know that hope, peace, joy, and love are not just what we prepare and wait for, they are that without which we cannot live. 
So, as I prepare, I am praying your preparations will come to the richness of a blessed Advent and a joyous Christmas filled with His presence as well as His extraordinary gifts for you and those you love.

[1] Henri Nouwen, “Wait for the Lord.”