Thursday, December 4, 2014

1st Week of Advent

An anonymous poet has written: "I saw the sign on the highway ‘Prepare to meet thy God.’ But when I got a little closer There were no further instructions."  Advent is a season like that: one where we prepare, we wait, we discern what the “further instructions” are!

 Contrary to the dominant and prevailing view in American culture, Advent doesn’t begin with unbridled celebration or a shopping spree! Rather, Advent deals with a community of hurt, with you and me, real people who know pain, depression, inadequacy and failure, particularly at this time in our country when tensions, especially racial and ethnic tensions, are running at least as high as back in the 1960's. Such a community of hurt knows the One to Whom it speaks in prayer in its time of suffering. We call upon God, the Lord of hurt, whom we trust to bring our suffering to an end.

 Since our hope and prayer is directed to the One whose reign is never really in doubt, our community of hurt is also a community of hope. We passionately hope for the end of our troubles. Our living faith assures us that God reign will surely come. The hope which we express isn’t wishful thinking, but a concrete hope, based on the words and actions of the One we follow, every bit as real as the pain we feel. Hurt and hope go together in our lives, even though you and I don’t like to accept that reality. We’d like to think that, somehow, we can have the one (guess which?) without the other. Yet it’s precisely the reality of our present hurt which motivates us to have hope.

 Advent is meant to shatter our fantasy worlds, and to teach us to acknowledge, to speak, and to take action about our pain and the world’s; to look in hope, not to ourselves, but to Jesus. Advent asks if you and I are open enough for a newness to be given, if we’re trusting enough of the faithful God to let go of this world. Advent should lead us to reflect on Jesus‘ observation (Mark 13:2) that “Not one stone will be left here upon another…” Larry Parton, in a now-defunct little magazine called alive now!, wrote: “The one we wait for is the one who will get in our way. He is the one who will disturb us and our peace. He is the one who will stop cooing and begin to talk about things that will trouble us.” Realizing that, do we, as 1st century Christians did, still dare to pray without ceasing throughout our Advent wait: “Maranatha -- Come, Lord Jesus”?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God bless you, Father Harry!

Beginning in 336 AD in the writings of the Christian Philatrius and continuing through the 20th century, the very nature of Advent has been what Philatrius himself called "the fast before Christmas". All church music, for instance, from the very beginning has provided PENITENTIAL music for Advent. The festal "Gloria in Excelsis" has alway been forbidden in Advent. The mid-8th century Gelasian Sacramentary (the earliest regular altar service book) has provided fully penitential propers for Advent.
Advent is NOT a celebratory pre-Christmas season. It is a penitential preparation for the Nativity!
And thanks again,for underlining that!

Fr. John-Julian, OJN