The word advent means “coming” or “beginning.” It represents a new start. And so, with the beginning of Advent each year, we may find ourselves thinking about how things will be different this year. This year the stress of the season won’t lead to arguments or unhealthy overindulgence; this Advent we will truly sense God’s presence, be mindful of what it’s about; this Advent and Christmas will be happy, peaceful, perfect.
This longing may be a holdover from childhood—or a residual feeling left from years of romantic holiday ads—but the season’s temptations to stress and excess challenge our longing. Advent invites us to wait, slow down, and stay awake to look for the coming of Christ, to open ourselves to receive this perfect gift. The culture around us crams our bodies and senses so full that there’s little room left for the holy family to dwell—no room in our calendars, no room in our minds, no room in our budgets, no room in our bodies. How often do you suppose we metaphorically turn Mary and Joseph away because there’s “no room” in us for them to give birth to the Christ?
A flight attendant once misspoke in giving the standard directions for deplaning saying, “Be careful as you open the overhead bins, as your longings may have shifted during the flight.” Journeys do tend to shift things, and the journey we begin today invites us to shift our longings away from anything that distracts us from what matters most of all. We are invited to be alert instead to the surprising inbreakings of hope, of gentleness, of peace—even in the midst of stress, failure, and struggle. The journey we begin today calls us to direct our longings toward God and the promises for transformation that we receive in Jesus Christ.

Surprising God, slow me down and open me up to receive the peace that is your love for me in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 13:24-37

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Lectionary Week
November 27–December 3, 2017
Scripture Overview

Advent begins not on a note of joy but of despair. Humankind has realized that people cannot save themselves; apart from God’s intervention, we are totally lost. The prayer of Advent is that Christ will soon come again to rule over God’s creation. The passages from Isaiah 64 and Psalm 80 express the longing of faithful people for God to break into their isolation and to shatter the gridlock of human sin. The New Testament texts anticipate with both awe and thanksgiving the coming of “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Isaiah 64:1-9. When have you found yourself in a disorienting setting? What was your cry to God? What response to your lament did you seek?
• Read Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19. What in you needs the restoration that only God can give?
• Read 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. How might you become a means of reconciliation in your family, your work setting, your city?
• Read Mark 13:24-37. What especially do you long for this Advent-Christmas? How can you participate in the transforming love of Christ to manifest a reconciling spirit?

Respond by posting a prayer.

This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”

Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.