Gospel Reading: -Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.’”
Awakening to Presence
by David Morrison
Advent is a season of expecting the unexpected. This kind of preparation can be difficult when we’ve become too familiar with the trappings of our Christianity, mistaking them for intimacy with God. To counter this stagnation in the spiritual life, the Spirit often breaks into our lives in unimaginable ways, disrupting our routines and schedules. It might take a while to realize that these interruptions “to our lives,” are actually “our lives.” Joseph Campbell said it well: “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” Quite often, the well-planned life turns out to be an artificial life, and it’s tempting to build a façade of Christian trimming around it. A shallow reading of this gospel passage would lead one to conclude that being prepared for “that day that could catch you by surprise like a trap,” means stockpiling provisions, deciphering scripture codes, being perpetually suspicious of world leaders, and worst of all: externalizing the return of Jesus to the point that one divorces him or herself from his or her own life; as if Jesus is coming for a select few to take them out of the very world he loves and in which he is completely involved. In contrast, a contemplative reading of this passage takes the injunction to be prepared to mean to be participants in the life of the world. This kind of preparation causes one’s focus to be looking for emanations of the world that is coming shining through in the present world. The world inwardly groans and yearns to be renewed at the coming of the Lord. And so we cry in the suffering of others, but we actively wait in joy as we see even now, celebrations of God’s presence breaking into our everyday world. This kind of intentional seeing and living enables us to awaken to God’s presence in us, all around us, and especially in every person and creature we encounter.
Prayer while lighting the first candle each evening:
O Emmanuel, Jesus Christ,
Desire of every nation,
Savior of all peoples,
Come and dwell among us.