Tag Archives: Henri Nouwen

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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