Presence of God Scripture Text:  Thessalonians 5: 16-19
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.  May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Pray without ceasing?  Are you kidding me?  Think how much we have to do in this season!  I mean, prayer is a good thing, a great thing in fact.  We all know that.  But pray without ceasing?  As in ALWAYS?  So, what do we do with those distractions, with all those who need us to do something?  What do we do with life?  What do you do with all the preparations that the season holds?  How do you fit that in?  Uh oh…Spirit effectively quenched!  Not good…I hate it when that happens!


The truth is, Paul was not telling us that we had to spend our days body-bent and knee-bowed.  The truth is, there is WAY too much work to do.  We’ve got some Kingdom-building to do, after all.  Paul was not calling us to a life spent in prayer but rather to a prayerful life, a life that is sacred, hallowed, a life lived in the unquenchable Spirit of God.  This has nothing to do with counting the number of hours or minutes or nano-seconds that you spend in prayer.  A prayerful life is one that sees everything as hallowed and holy, sees everything as of God, embraces life as a gift rather than a vessel to be filled with things and to do lists and results.  Praying without ceasing is not about “doing”; it is about being. Olga Savin says that “[the Scriptures] tell us that ceaseless prayer in pursuit of God and communion with [God] is not simply life’s meaning or goal, the one thing worth living for, but it is life itself.”  And a life lived the way it is called to be lived is the very will of God, the very will of, as the Scripture says, the one who is faithful.  It is prayer–ceaseless prayer.


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if in our Advent waiting, we found a time of prayer, we found a time, as Mary did, to ponder (Luke 2: 19).  Maybe THAT’S what’s wrong with us.  Maybe we’ve lost our ability to ponder, to be attentive to what resides in the deepest part of our soul, to be aware of God’s Presence in our lives.  Maybe this time of waiting is so that we’ll take the opportunity to do some serious pondering, to pray without ceasing.  After all, what in your life is NOT holy?  What in your life is NOT positively bursting with the Divine?  What in your life is NOT a gift from God?  Well, the answer is nothing.  There is NOTHING in your life that is not full to the very brim–spilling-over-chock-full-seemingly-unable-to-put-anything-else-in-brim–with the presence of the one who calls you, the one who is faithful, the one who is ALWAYS there.  Make everything you do an offering to God.  Let everything you have and everything you are be a preparation for God’s coming.  Offer it to God.  G.K. Chesterton once said “let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”  Praying without ceasing is probably more about living, about loving, about holy waiting, than it is about prayer as we often define it.  It has little to do with the words we say and everything to do with tuning ourselves to the conversation that God is already inviting us to live.


The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw—and knew I saw—all things in God and God in all things.  (Mechtilde of Magdeburg, 13th century)


FOR TODAY:  Pray without ceasing.  Look around you.  EVERYTHING that you see, EVERYTHING that you touch, EVERYTHING that you imagine, EVERYTHING that you let loose, EVERYTHING that you pick up, EVERYTHING that you eat, EVERYTHING that you love, EVERYTHING that is you…EVERYTHING is full to the brim with God.  Pray without ceasing.


Grace and Peace,




This Act of Preparation

Moses at the Promised LandScripture Text: Malachi 3:1

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.

Preparation…we keep talking about, keep touting this season as the one of preparation.  So, if it’s not about decorating and shopping and wrapping then what is this act of preparation that we are supposed to do?  Our culture tells us to be prepared for whatever may happen.  The Gospels tell stories warning us against being unprepared for what is to come.  And this season…this season of waiting is also laced with exhortations to get ready–for the coming of the Lord but, as hard as we try to ignore the culture closing in on us, for that big day ahead.  I mean what would happen if we awoke unprepared on Christmas morning–without the required number of gifts perfectly wrapped and under the tree, without all the luscious foods prepared, without a decorated house, and, most of all, without a ready heart prepared to receive our Lord.  Whew!  That’s a lot on our plates!  No wonder we’re stressed.  What, pray tell, are we supposed to be doing to get prepared?


For what exactly are we preparing?  Maybe that’s our whole problem.  We live lives that are so results-oriented that we don’t see life itself.  What if everything we did, every act we lived, every breath we breathed was not so that we could have a good result or count it as something done, but, rather, was part of who we are, part of the very journey itself?  What if it was our journey, our living, in which the Lord delighted, rather than merely the result it attained?


You know, I love Thanksgiving. It is the one family holiday that I can truly take the time to do right. Sure, I cook way too much food. And, this year, I probably spent more than twenty hours preparing for a 30 minute meal. I planned the menu. I put the leaves in the table. I planned what the table would look like. I drug out all of Aunt Doll’s china and Grandmother’s silver (you know, all that stuff that has to be hand washed!) I set the table. I arranged the centerpiece. I straightened the house and rearranged the back porch. I carefully picked out which bowl or which plate would hold which dish.   I chopped and I rolled and I mixed and I stirred and I cooked and I cooled. There were no shortcuts. Everything was made from scratch.   Because you see, for me, the preparation for the meal is for me as gratifying an experience as the meal itself.


And now as the Thanksgiving meal’s leftovers begin to wain,  we prepare for the next big thing.  But it’s hard to remember that act of preparation.  It’s hard to look upon it as a thing in and of itself rather than merely a way to the next thing.  And yet, the passage tells us that it is the messenger in whom the Lord delights.  It says nothing about where the messenger ends up or how many people the messenger gets to the end or whether or not the messenger did a good job.  God delights in the messenger; God delights in our acts of preparing the way.  Don’t you remember Moses standing on the edge of the Promised Land?  All of the journeying, all of the heartache, all of the wilderness wanderings, all of the frustrations with covenants and golden calves and burning bushes and parted waters…all of that…that whole journey to the one moment…when he looked at the Promised Land that he would never enter.  There are those that would look upon that as a failure, as if he had not completed his mission.


Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain—that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. The Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” (Deuteronomy 34: 1-4)


But Moses did exactly what he was supposed to do:  he prepared the way.  That is what we are called to do.  Results are great but it is the way, the journey, the preparation that teaches us, that gives us life.  Our salvation does not come in one moment because we’ve done all the things we’re supposed to do but rather in a lifetime of preparing the way for God, making our way toward a promised land that we may or may not enter.  Advent is not about the results; it is about what we become on the way there.  God calls us to a journey of preparation–preparing our hearts, preparing the way, being open to that act of preparation to which we’re called.  Advent ends on Christmas morning.  Whether or not we are fully prepared is probably of lesser importance than the journey that we had to the moment when we looked over and saw the promised land, when we knew in the very depth of our being that God was in our midst.


Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. (From “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”, a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 3, 1968. Dr. King was assassinated the next day.)


FOR TODAY:  Look at your journey.  Look at your preparation.  Live it.  God is there.  You may get there and you may not, but, oh, what a ride!  Live a life of holy preparation because the Promised Land is already prepared for you.


Grace and Peace,



Last Minute Details

Last MinuteScripture Passage for Reflection:  Mark 1: 1-3

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,  who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:    “Prepare the way of the Lord,  make his paths straight” ’…

One week left!  So how many emails did you get today promising free shipping or half off priority shipping or 35% off or 40% off or perhaps a gift card to use later?  Everyone is in the last minute crunch.  And just as we enter the final stretch of all this waiting, it sometimes gets a little difficult to remember why we do it at all.  How long have we waited?  Well, this year, we’re only 18 days into it.  Good thing we weren’t part of those who waited for centuries upon centuries, trying their best to ready the world and ready their souls.  Good thing we weren’t there.  We’re probably not that patient.  So, are you prepared for what will come?  Are you prepared for that for which we’ve been waiting?

I must admit that waiting is hard for me.  But it’s because it’s sort of a strange notion.  I want so badly for that which I’m waiting to come and yet, the “perfectionist” part of me knows I’m not ready.  I mean, there’s always so much more to do, right? So, what if you turn on your computer or your television or whatever it is that’s the first thing you look first thing in the morning at and find out, horror of horrors, that Christmas arrived 6 days early this year?  Ugh oh!  That would be bad.  After all, we’re not ready!

I wonder what it was like that first Christmas.  After all, they had had centuries of waiting behind them so surely, surely they were ready.  And yet, don’t you think Mary and Joseph spent at least a little bit of time talking to each other:  “Really?  Now?  Now is really not a good time.  Why can’t we wait until we’re married, maybe wait until we’ve got a little bit of savings in the bank, or perhaps we should have another child first and practice.  I mean, really, this is a lot to ask.  We’re really not ready.  Good grief, we don’t even have a reservation!”  And those shepherds?  “Now?  We have to go now?  What am I supposed to do, just leave these sheep wandering on the hillside.  SURELY, you can wait just until we’ve got everything together, everything worked out.”  And what about the innkeeper:  “Oh come now, NOW?  Good grief, this is the first time that we’ve boasted 100% occupancy!  And NOW you come?”  And those poor wise men from the East:  “OK, I thought I had made it.  I thought this was the job of jobs. And you want me to go where?  The other way.  NOW?  Oh, come on, let me do this for awhile, maybe stock some savings away.  It’s not all that bad.  That is not good planning.”

Do you really think the world was ready?  Do you really think that they were all that different from us?  When are you ready to have your foundations shaken to the core and your whole world turned upside down?  Maybe the lesson of Advent is not to make sure that all of the last minute details are done but to teach us to prepare to be surprised, prepare to follow wherever God leads.  That’s the way you prepare the Way.  God will come when God will come.  We don’t have to have everything perfect; we just have to pay attention.

God did not wait till the world was ready, till nations were at peace.  God came when the Heavens were unsteady and prisoners cried out for release.  God did not wait for the perfect time.  God came when the need was deep and great.  In the mystery of the Word made flesh, the maker of the Stars was born.  We cannot wait till the world is sane to raise our songs with joyful voice, or to share our grief, to touch our pain.  God came with Love.  Rejoice!  Rejoice!  And go into the Light of God. (“First Coming”, by Madeleine L’Engle)

Reflection:  OK, this one’s hard…What do you have left to do to prepare for Christmas?  Take a look at your last minute details.  Now cross one off.  Ignore it.  And instead of burying yourself in the details, look up.  THAT’S the way you prepare the WAY.

Grace and Peace,


Advent 3A: Altars in the Desert

Crocus Desert IrisThis Week’s Lectionary Passage:  Isaiah 35: 1-10

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.”  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Look!  Look really, really hard!  This is not some proclamation of some future utopian world.  This is not our reward that God is dangling before us for living righteous lives.  This is not some other place in some other realm or some other life.  This is God’s vision for the world that is here, that is now.  It is there, blooming in the desert even as we speak.  The question, then, is whether or not we really dare to imagine it into being, dare to open our eyes to see the Kingdom of God come pouring into our lives.  Albert Einstein once said that “your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.”  So what do you imagine is next?  The writer of this passage was probably writing to an exiled people, a people who had been so beat up and put down that they were having a hard time imagining anything else.  But this writer looked at a world that was in chaos and saw order, looked at a road so overgrown that it was thought to be impassable and saw a highway, and looked at the thirsty, lifeless desert and saw blooms.  And then he or she writes of a scene that was beyond what anyone ever thought would happen.  He envisions these exiles, these people whose hopes and dreams had long been quashed and whose lives had become nothing more than an exercise in survival dancing and singing with joy as they returned home.

Why can’t we do that?  Have we come so far from this that there is no way back?  Do we have our lives so sowed up that we cannot open ourselves to imagining something else?  Are our plans so finalized that we are not able to listen to another way?  What if this year were different?  What if instead of preparing for a Christmas like you’ve always had, you prepared for the coming of God into this world, for a world beyond anything that you can plan or even fathom to suddenly come flooding in to the tune of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” as you light your Christmas candle on the 24th?  Now THAT is what the writer is talking about!

In this season of Advent, we are not just called to look toward that day about which the writer of this passage writes.  We are reminded to look FOR that day, to imagine and believe it into being and to see what of it is already there.  We live within a holy tension of the way the world is and the way God calls the world to be.  But we are reminded that the blooms in the desert are already planted.  We just have to open our eyes to the possibility and then sing and dance for joy.  It will be the fulfillment of the promise that has always been there and, finally, there will indeed be “joy to the world.” Barbara Brown Taylor says that “Human beings may separate things into as many piles as we wish—separating spirit from flesh, sacred from secular, church from world.  But we should not be surprised when God does not recognize the distinctions we make between the two.  Earth is so thick with divine possibility that it is a wonder we can walk anywhere without cracking our shins on altars. (An Altar in the World:  A Geography of Faith, p. 15.)  So, what if everything that you saw, everything that you touched, was indeed holy–maybe not holy in the “holier-than-thou, overly-righteous, inaccessible-to-the-ordinary-human” sense, but rather “thick with divine possibility,” filled with the promise of redemption, the promise that buried deep within its being were deserts waiting to bloom?  Look!  Look really, really hard!

Click on this link for pure joy!

Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates; behold the King of glory waits; the King of kings is drawing near, the Savior of the world is here!      (Georg Weissel, 1642)

Reflection:  How would you prepare for the coming of God into this world?  How do you imagine a world that is filled with holiness, thick with divine possibility, and the very vision that God imagines?  What do you have to do to look really, really hard?

Grace and Peace,


Prepare Ye the Way

Lighted PathwayScripture for Reflection:  Mark 1: 2-3

2As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”

We read this as a call to preparation, a call to hastily clean up our act before the Holy Child appears, a call to straighten up and follow the path to God.  But we forget about the ones who came before.  There has been waiting and preparing going on for centuries upon centuries of generations.  The word “Hebrew” is from the root “avar”, which means “to wander”.  What we have is a story of a people journeying home.  What we know is not the whole story, but merely a chapter of an incredible epic that God has written on our hearts.

Lately, I have gotten back to working some more with my family history, trying to figure out who came before, who was on the path before me.  I realized that I had quite a few pictures of the generations of women in my family–my grandmothers, my great-grandmothers, my great-great grandmothers, and even some great-great-great grandmothers.  So I set to work scanning and printing and framing and arranging and created a “Wall of Women”, those women in my family that are part of me.  I have eleven pictures on the wall and I and the rest of my family are now looking for others.  Of those women, I only knew four–my mother, both my grandmothers, and my Great Grandmother Stockdick.  And yet, I know them all.  They are part of me.  They are the ones that have prepared the way.

Jesus was not just plunked down from the sky into a manger.  Jesus came, God with Us, after eons of the earth straining to see the Light.  He came into centuries upon centuries of waiting journeyers, those who had prepared the way for his coming, not know what that would be but knowing that it would be.  Those that came before are not just a prelude to the story but are part of the story itself.

We, too, do not just appear on the scene.  We are part of the story–all that came before us and all that will come after us.  And a little more than two weeks from you when you sit in the sanctuary surrounded by candlelight knowing that, yet again, the Light has come, you will know that it does not just appear.  It comes after centuries of waiting; it comes after years of your life preparing for it and journeying toward it; and it comes at the end of this darkened season of Advent.  We journey not knowing what will be but that it will be.  We enter a Way that has already been prepared and prepare the Way ourselves.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, 4and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5and Solomon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6and Jesse the father of King David.  And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,* 8and Asaph* the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos,* and Amos* the father of Josiah, 11and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.  12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.* (Matthew 1: 2-16)

photo(1)Catherine Coffman Morrison, the mother of William Patrick Morrison, who with Hattie Aurelia Brockway Morrison, was the father and mother of Zeta Helen Morrison Stockdick;   (2) Mary Angeline Egbert Stockdick, the mother of Adam Henry Stockdick and Sarah A. Klaiss Young, the mother of Elmira Young Stockdick, who, with Adam Henry Stockdick were the parents of William Chester Stockdick.  (3) William Chester Stockdick and Zeta Helen Morrison Stockdick were the parents of Ruth Mary Stockdick Williams, (4) Mary Elizabeth Little Williams, the mother of Lester Leon Williams, who with Ruth Mary Stockdick Williams, were the parents of William Don Williams, (5) Helene Sitz Krause, mother of Agnes Helene Angeline Krause Reue, mother of Helen Louise Reue Williams, (6) William Don Williams and Helen Louise Reue Williams, the parents of Helen Michelle (Shelli) Williams.

Reflection:  Who has prepared the way for you? How are you being called to prepare the way?

Grace and Peace,


ADVENT 3B: Hallowed Be

Lectionary Passage:  1 Thessalonians 5: 16-19 (20-24)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

How do you pray without ceasing?  I mean, OK, now, let’s pray.  We pray and we pray.  Things are going OK.  We’re praying along.  Wait, who’s phone is that?  Hold on, it’s mine.  Stop praying.  Answer the phone.  OK, now, I need to pick up the house a bit.  And I need to write the blog for tomorrow.  And tomorrow is trash day.  And Maynard needs his dinner. And, to be honest, I think I do too.  Pray without ceasing?  Really?  How do you fit that in?  And, sadly, the Spirit is quenched.

Paul was not laying down a rule for prayer.  Paul never envisioned us living body-bent and knee-bowed 24/7.  After all, there is WAY too much work to do.  We’ve got some Kingdom-building to accomplish, don’t we?  No, Paul was not calling us to a life spent in prayer; He was calling us to a prayerful life, a life that is sacred, hallowed, a life lived in the unquenchable Spirit of God.  It’s not about logging prayer hours.  Rather, it’s about perspective, about seeing everything that is your life as hallowed and holy, as of God, as prayer.  Olga Savin says that “[the Scriptures] tell us that ceaseless prayer in pursuit of God and communion with [God] is not simply life’s meaning or goal, the one thing worth living for, but it is life itself.”  And a life lived the way it is called to be lived is the very will of God.  It is prayer.

And so, pray without ceasing.  When you answer the phone, cherish the family member or the friend or the co-worker who has called you.  In fact, give thanks for the person on the other end who inadvertantly dialed the wrong number.  After all, they, too, are your brother or sister.  God has called us to love one another.  And as you clean and straighten, look around you.  Your dwelling is more than shelter.  It is an expression of you.  Give thanks for the you that God has made.  And then do what God has called you to do.  Use your talents.  Give thanks for them.  They were given to you by God to use in the building of God’s Kingdom.  And that big black lab that wants his dinner?  Personally, I thank God everyday for bringing us together.  How did I find a companion like this on the internet?  He needed me; I needed him.  Isn’t that why Creation exists?  Then sit back and taste dinner.  Taste that which has been lovingly grown by the Divine.  And give thanks.  Every household task, everything thing you do, do as a prayer.  And all of those never-ending interruptions?  Think of them as holy.  (After all, think about it–when did God show up as planned?)  Make everything you do an offering to the Divine.  Let everything you have and everything you are be a preparation for God’s coming.  Embrace it.  Rejoice in it.  Give thanks.

In this season of waiting for the coming of God, pray without ceasing.  In other words, live your life to the fullest and the best.  Offer it to God.  And rejoice in what you have–companionship, beauty, work, love.  G.K. Chesterton exhorted us to “let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” I love that.  You know, God is coming. It will happen. But don’t forget that God is here. Rejoice! And live your life waiting and rejoicing, rejoicing and waiting.  And, most of all, love.  That is how you pray without ceasing.
In this season of Advent, give yourself the gift of seeing your life as prayer, of living in a love affair with God.

Grace and Peace,



ADVENT 1B:  Isaiah 13: (24-31) 32-37
32“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn,36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

The first day of Advent…the first day of the Christian year…and (I know), the first day that I’ve written a blog posting in a really long time.  We begin this Year B of our Lectionary year with a reading from The Gospel According to Mark, whose writer really just sort of skips over the whole Advent / Christmas thing and cuts right to the chase.  Most over-personalized readings of this Scripture leave us with a fear of what comes next.  (Oh my, am I ready?  What’s going to happen to me?) We quickly go to visions of those who are unprepared being uncomfortably ripped from what they know or, as a series of cult fiction writings would depict it, being flat out left behind!  But keep reading…this is not meant to scare us; it is meant to wake us up.  Sure, it is meant to remind us that there is something coming!  We do not want to miss it.  But, more than that, we do not want to miss the present spiritual awakening that we are all having in this very moment.

We have skewed our understanding of Advent a bit.  I think all of us know that.  But, really, can you blame us?  The world is so bent on being prepared for what comes next that it tends to live one season ahead at all times–the Halloween decorations go up the end of August, the Thankgiving decorations go up the end of September, and the Christmas decorations go up the end of October.  The twelve days of Christmas tide, will of course, be filled with merchandise sales, a couple of unreplaced burned out Christmas lights, and and a flowering of little red hearts filled with candy to make sure we’re ready for the next thing.  Somewhere in there, Advent is lost.  Oh, we Christians, do alright with it.  We faithfully light one candle at a time while we begrudingingly ward off the singing of any Christmas carols.  But Advent is not merely a season of preparation for Christmas.  It is much, much more.  It is from the Latin “Adventus“, which means arrival or coming.  It is not really meant to be only a time of shopping and checking off our “to do” list for the December 25th festival. Rather, Advent is our awakening to the realization that the Divine is even now spilling into our lives, even now a new humanity is being birthed, and even now all of Creation is being reformed and recreated.

We cannot live one season ahead.  God will come when God will come.  The full revealing of what God has in store is yet to be.  But this season of Advent, this season of waiting, awakens us that we might see that it has already started to be.  The feast has yet to be set but the dancing has begun.  All we have to do is learn to stay awake.

In this season of Advent, give yourself the gift of your own awakening to God’s Sacred Presence that is all around you.

Grace and Peace,