‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds” with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’
Mark 13: 24-27
Thanks to Susie for this picture
One of my favorite Candler preachers and professors, Fred Craddock talks about Advent's waiting not as pie in the sky waiting, but actual-work–to-be-done waiting. This waiting is not passive; it is certainly not observing-from-the-audience waiting. Instead this anticipation comes from the inside-out. It as close to us as our next breath. We are to be alert, awake. There are jobs for us to do. The gatekeeper needs to pay attention. We watchers need to watch.
Symbolically I wonder what my task is for this Advent?
We are invited to enter into this season of waiting with focus and intent; this is not a season we do by rote. We are encouraged to be prayerful, to be mindful. Keep awake, we are told. Take this time seriously, intentionally. Truthfully, we have never been at this particular place before in our life experience. Who we were as children, what we brought with us even last year ~ are not the same as this year. In this past year of holding on and letting go, there have been shifts and changes in us, the fabric of our lives clothe us differently this year. May this Advent waiting time hold all of that, as we turn and return again to this season.
This First Sunday of Advent is our beginning day. We are called to be right here, right now. We are invited in as if for the first time. These days of staying awake meets us this day ~ at just the best time. As we enter into this season of carols and candles, of lights glowing in the darkness, our hearts anticipate what just might be possible this year. We enter in, we begin this day with intention, with hope.
What are we waiting for this year? What are we hoping for? As we begin, may we shift the regular rhythms of our days and welcome what is not yet, may we create a place in our hearts for what is coming next for us.
Breath prayers invite you in to a practice of slowing down and shifting focus. You can use
words of short phrases and allow the words to "enter in." Breathe the first word in quotes
and then exhale the second word. And repeat.
Breath Prayer: “stay” “awake”
Holy God of Beginnings, you gather us in this day. We welcome your loving presence as we set out in this Advent season. May these days hold us in hope as we open our minds and hearts to your message of promise fulfilled. Amen.
believes in beginnings and beginning again, in holding on and letting go, in God's presence as close as our next breath. Lesley works as a hospice Bereavement Coordinator in Atlanta. She is an ordained minister in the UCC and has just completed her second book, "Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon in 29 Days" (to be released early in 2015).