A FRIDAY MEDITATION – It’s still Advent

 

There’s a voice in the wilderness crying, a call from the ways untrod:

Prepare in the desert a highway, a highway for our God!

The valleys shall be exalted, the lofty hills brought low;

make straight all the crooked places where the Lord our God may go!

~ THE HYMNAL 1982

This past year has gone way too fast. Faster than any year that I can remember.  Of course, I have been sick since August and didn’t feel very well for the first part of the year.  I was sick then, but I didn’t know it as I had not been diagnosed.  Being sick has taken up a lot of my time and energy. I travel through time much slower than I am accustomed to travel. I’m even trying to draft my writing on a yellow pad rather than my computer. It’s slower and will, maybe, help with my concentration. I’ll see.

We are mostly through the first week of Advent, the beginning of the Church year, and rapidly approaching Christmas. Most people have finished their decorating.  Parties are taking place. We frantically try to keep up with it all – the shopping, wrapping, finish decorating, meal planning, baking, cooking, cleaning, choir and pageant practice, etc.  The world is already celebrating Christmas while the Church is preparing for the royal birth.  Preparing is what Advent is about. And, it’s true, all that shopping, wrapping, etc., has become part of it for many of us. We’re preparing, aren’t we? Maybe or maybe not.

For me, it would be “not”.  I would just get it all done, and Christmas would be over.  What is it I was preparing for?  Has the prep time just been more chores piled on top of my regular routine?  I don’t believe the season is supposed to be like that. Did I – did we ever slow down enough to feel the excitement of Jesus’ coming into the world.  Did we take time to prepare for him?  Did we ever sit like Mary and ponder what this all means to us? All of the busy work and my soul begins to feel empty.

 

Many years ago, I don’t remember when it began, I decided Advent was going to be different.  I wanted to slow down my preparations and take time to enjoy the season. On the first Sunday of Advent, we put up the tree.  Our trees have grown in a factory for many seasons rather than in a forest or tree farm. No theological reason for that.  I’m just allergic to evergreens when I touch them.  Anyway, our tree is up now.  It’s not decorated because I start that the second week of Advent. It did, however, grow with lights already on it which I would have put on the second Sunday. The decorating of the tree and of the house will be finished on Christmas Eve. 

 

My Advent candles are out, of course, and we light them every evening.  Tomorrow, I’ll dig out the nativity set. I’ll set out the manger, empty of course, except for a turtle, a Cursillo chicken, and a few farm animals.  I would put out the spider, so it could decorate with its webs, but it is bigger that the baby Jesus, so I decided against it. The shepherd is out on the hills watching the sheep and the Magi are far, far away. On Christmas Eve during the day, Mary and Joseph arrive.  Jesus is in a small covered dish on the shelf below the nativity set.  He will arrive in the manger after Christmas Eve Mass and the shepherd and other animals will move in to adore him. The angel that has followed Mary and Joseph is now in the barn with them.

 

I bake very little anymore, because trust me, I would eat most of it.  After losing 60 pounds almost ten years ago, I decided to bake all those cookies was not in my best interest. As for Christmas gifts, it is possible some of them might show up on Epiphany.  That is when Jesus received some of his so it’s traditional. I love how we have been doing our decorating and all the rest of our preparations.  It isn’t so hectic, and it gives me time to ponder. I have time to prepare my spirit for the coming of the Lord anew in me. What new thing is he trying to show to me? How is he trying to transform me? Maybe he is just enjoying me spending time with him. I’m enjoying it. It helps me stay in the moment.  It helps me listen. And I do not miss all the craziness.

 This year, as I do most of them, I start Advent by attending a Quiet Day at our Church.  Fr. Jack told us the day was for us to be able to have a renewing encounter with God, and he gave us questions to ponder to help us.  I plan to use them in my quiet time each day and by Christmas, I hope to have some of the answers.  Perhaps I will share some with you.

 

 So, if you haven’t finished all your preparations for Christmas, remember that Christmas doesn’t start until December 25. You still have time.  Take some of that time for a renewing encounter with God.  You can be refreshed rather than frazzled when you get to Christmas Day. And have a Merry and blessed Christmas.

 

Grace and Peace,

Donna

 

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A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Let it be so

When does an ordinary life become extraordinary? A mundane day become revolutionary? A moment in time change history? When God enters in, forgives sin, allows us to begin again. When we repeat those words of Mary – ‘May it be to me as you say’ ~ John Birch

Sometimes, when I read and pray with the Bible, I try to put myself in the story.  I try to notice what is going on, who the characters are, what the air is like, etc.  This meditation becomes part of my prayer and sometimes it takes on a life of its own, such as this time.

“As I sat in prayer this morning, suddenly (why is it always suddenly) a stranger stood before me, ‘Hello, Donna, chosen by God. God has sent me to tell you that he wants you to bear his Son. His Kingdom will be forever, and he will save his people from themselves!  You will call him Jesus.’

‘Huh? What? Who are you? You are scaring me.  And what are you talking about? Are you nuts?’

‘Don’t be afraid, chosen one. I am the angel, Gabriel, and God sends me to bring messages to people.   He has been waiting for you.  He so loves you and he wants you to be the mother of his son.’

‘Well, I do love God.  Always.  But have God’s Son.  What does that even mean?  I’m a virgin. Have you any idea what my mother would say.  She will lock me up with this crazy story.’

‘Donna, this baby is the Promised One who will save the people from themselves and show them the way to live.  You know, they keep getting it wrong.’

‘Do you mean the Messiah?  Is that who you’re talking about?’

‘Yes! God has been waiting for you. This is your part.’

‘Oh, boy! Hmm.  Holy cow!  Are you serious? Really? You can’t be serious.  Can you?’

‘I am serious.’

‘Ah yes, then, may it be to me as you say.’”

This is a simple story to bear such holy weight, isn’t it?  It reminds us of the One for whom we wait.  We have been waiting in Advent.  We are waiting to celebrate Jesus‘ birth and we wait for his coming again.  We wait for the Kingdom of God and for all to be restored.  At this moment, we live in the ‘between’ times – between his birth and his return. He has called us, his followers, to be his Body on earth until then. We who are baptized are re-membered, as we receive his Body and Blood in Holy Communion, to become his Body here on earth.  We are to fill the gap. We are to bear Jesus into the world, to tell the story, to do those things he did, show his love to others, to carry forth his light into the darkness and to participate in spreading God’s kingdom on earth. What an amazing and holy commission this is.

So, we wait.  God waits.  You, O highly favored one – God’s chosen – what is your part in bringing forth Jesus into the world?  And what is mine?  Will we say with Mary, “May it be done to me as you say?” Lord, grant us the Grace to answer, “Yes.”

Have a very Merry Christmas.  Stay Blessed favored one. Come Lord, Jesus!

We are all meant to be mothers of God. What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly, but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of Man is begotten in us.” – Meister Eckhart