11For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Plans–we’re good at making plans. We make plans and we put them on a list and we structure our time and our finances and we walk toward those plans. But what happened to that vision that we keep talking about? You know the one, when the predators really do lie down with those that they now persecute, when all of us listen to each other, respect each other, when we are all open to change and open to being the instruments of change. It is the vision for which we hope, the vision on which our whole being, our whole faith is placed. But, remember that means change-change for the world and change for us. How open to change are we? No, I mean really. How open are we to letting go of what we hold, letting go of the lives that we’ve built around us, the lives that we’ve earned, the lives that we deserve? How open are we, truly, to letting go of the plans that we’ve made for ourselves? Oh, we say we are but, then, most of us are the ones with a whole lot more to let go, a whole lot more to lose. I mean, after all, if your life is going exactly like you’ve planned for it to go, why would you want to change?
We want to change because we are called to change. It is part of who we are in the deepest part of our being, that part of ourselves that is truly created in God’s image. So do not hold too tightly to what you have made for yourself. There is something much, much more waiting for you. That is what this season of Advent calls us to do–let go, be open to change, open to the plan that God has for us. Think about it. What shapes you? What shapes your life? What are your goals? What gives your life me aning? In what kingdom do you reside?
In what kingdom do I reside? What does THAT mean? I mean, who do you follow, what drives you, to whom do you listen? Life is hard work, this following of our dreams, this pursuing of our riches, this trying desperately to hold on to what we perceive as ours. Maybe it’s because this is not that for which we were made. This is not the image that is buried deep within us, the one that compels us to change, the one will lead us out of exile. The lights have just begun to dawn, pointing the way to the promise, to that vision that God holds for us, to the blueprint that God has had all along. This season points to a baby each year but the main reason is that it is calling us to rebirth, to follow another Way. Search for the Lord and you will find that Way.
In each heart lies a Bethlehem, an inn where we must ultimately answer whether there is room or not, When we are Bethlehem-bound we experience our own advent in his. When we are Bethlehem-bound we can no longer look the other way conveniently not seeing stars, not hearing angel voices. We can no longer excuse ourselves by busily tending our sheep or our kingdoms.
This Advent let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that the Lord has made known to us. In the midst of shopping sprees, let’s ponder in our hearts the Gift of Gifts. Through the tinsel, let’s look for the gold of the Christmas Star. In the excitement and confusion, in the merry chaos, let’s listen for the brush of angels’ wings. This Advent, let’s go to Bethlehem and find our kneeling places.
(“In Search of Our Kneeling Places”, from Kneeling in Bethlehem, by Ann Weems, p. 19)
Reflection: What plans are you following? Where does that image of God within you call you to go?
Grace and Peace,