Thursday, December 11, 2014

An Advent Meditation

(I share these thoughts which were delivered in my homily for the Second Sunday of Advent.)

Each winter as the year grows older, we each grow older, too;
the chill sets in a little colder, the verities we knew seem shaken and untrue.
Yet I believe beyond believing that life can spring from death;
that growth can flower from our grieving, that we can catch our breath
and turn transfixed by faith.

These words, taken from the Advent Carol of Hope, echo the fact that the year is winding down and we certainly are experiencing (at least where I live) the earth growing colder.  We find ourselves once again in the period of expectation and waiting that we call Advent.  We are also introduced to the principal character of the Advent season - John the Baptist.  He arrives with his perennial Advent "sound bite" - Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand!

Indulge me for a moment.  Let us imagine that a time machine transports John from the first century to the upper level of Crossgates Mall on Black Friday.  (That would certainly be culture shock.)  As he begins to call people to repentance, security arrives on the scene to usher this odd looking man away.  He asks them what the fuss is all about on this day in this place.  They tell him people are preparing for Christmas.  "What is Christmas?"  he asks.  It's when we remember when Christ was born.  Bewildered he asks:  "Is this how you prepare for the celebration of Christ's birth?"

How do we prepare?  The year was 1903 and Katherine Wright received a telegraph message from her brothers - Orville and Wilbur - who told her "We actually flew 120 feet.  Will be home for Christmas."  She took the message to the editor of the local newspaper who read it and said "That's good that the boys will be home for Christmas."  He totally missed the point that man had actually flown.

Are we missing the point about Christmas?  Are we too wrapped up in shopping, wrapping presents and sending cards that we overlook the real meaning for why we do these things at this time every year?  This was a momentous event in human history that we are recalling.

Do you know that God and we have something in common?  Yes - it is that we are both human.  And it is in that revelation that God took on human flesh that should make us resound with joy.  All the other things we do this season are good but we should not overlook why we do them.  May we use Advent well and be ready again to welcome our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Christmas Day.

O child of ecstasy and wonder, O prince of peace and pain.  Brighten today's world by tomorrow's; renew our lives again; Lord Jesus, come and reign.

Have a prayerful Advent and a blessed Christmas!