Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Journey of Advent: Simply Silent

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14 NIV)

For each of us there are holy moments of silently knowing: the Word has become flesh…Christ has come to make His dwelling in us…the One and only from the Father is full of grace and truth.

This is part of our present, one-day-at-a-time, journey. Tonight you and I are invited into a silent moment of grace and truth because the Prince of peace is born for us.

Lo, in the silent night
A child to God is born
And all is brought again
That ere was lost or lorn.

Could but thy soul, O man
Become a silent night!
God would be born in thee
And set all things aright.

~A 15th Century verse, by an unknown author

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift (2Cor. 9:15)!

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The Journey of Advent: Simply Receiving

John the Baptist waited for the day he would proclaim the first coming of Christ. He did not determine when or where. I want to think John spent his days learning the same thing you and I are learning: God is in control. The journey of Advent reminds us that we can do nothing to bring about Christ’s second coming. But we can be ready to receive it.

God’s kingdom isn’t built by our good intentions but by our courage to receive it as John the Baptist did. To the world it can seem foolish to wait, but as people of faith we know that the reign of God gives shape and meaning to our lives. We contemplate the future simply receiving the present joy that Christ is coming into the world again.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him (John 1:6-11).

How will you and I receive the True Light who has already come and has not yet arrived?


The Journey of Advent: Simply Noticing

While waiting we listen to the story of Christ’s birth and in a sense we journey backwards through time. Have you ever noticed how many human emotions are on display in the Christmas story?

Surely, Mary and Joseph felt anxious, as well as, expectant on their way to Bethlehem. The shepherds, keeping watch over their flocks on the hillside near Bethlehem, must have been amazed and curious. An angry and frustrated King Herod was closely watching the little town from Jerusalem. I would guess the three wise men traveling toward the star over Bethlehem had hearts full of courage and charity.

And the one human emotion I think they all experienced was FEAR. The unknown of what they were going to find in Bethlehem must have felt overwhelmingly dark at times. Is it any different for you and me?

In Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, Henri Nouwen writes:

One of the most pervasive emotions in the atmosphere around us is fear. People are afraid – afraid of inner feelings, afraid of other people, and also afraid of the future. Fearful people have a hard time waiting, because when we are afraid we want to get away from where we are. … People who live in a world of fear are more likely to make aggressive, hostile, destructive responses than people who are not frightened. The more afraid we are, the harder waiting becomes (pgs. 27-28)

But you and I do not have to be afraid of the darkness that often surrounds our waiting moments. The Good News is very simply that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…He was with God in the beginning…through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made…in him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind…the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:1-5).

May our waiting become easier as we notice all our emotions, especially our fears, and prayerfully share them with God.

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The Journey of Advent: Simply Waiting

I have been on a lot of journeys this year; so I thought it appropriate to approach Advent as a journey. Every journey requires waiting to reach a destination. The journey of Advent requires waiting on God.

In Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, Henri Nouwen writes:

Waiting is not a very popular attitude. Waiting is not something that people think about with great sympathy. In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time. Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, “Get going! Do something! Show you are able to make a difference! Don’t just sit there and wait!” For many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place. They want to get out of it by doing something (pg. 27).

And so I have several Advent calendars this year to remind me that waiting happens one day at a time. I cannot rush the journey, I wait like you for the birth of Christ.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son
from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 ESV)

Each of us is invited on the journey of Advent to experience the fullness of the Father’s grace and truth. One day at a time, may you and I find ways to be counter-cultural by wasting time, simply waiting.

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