Advent Invitation

It is a little hard to believe that Advent is already upon us. The warm, sunny days of early November have been a gift from our Creator that we have all embraced, and yet the cool crispness of fall is what eases some of us into the coming of winter and the seasons that accompany it. They have come, both the beginning of Advent and the change in seasons. So, too, begins our season of waiting and expectation.

We can’t rush spring. We have no choice but to accept the weather of the coming months and anticipate the rebirth that we have confidence will happen in due time. We can only rest and wait. It is all out of my control. It is all grace.

Advent, the ultimate season of waiting and expectation, is the same. We wait with confidence and hope for the threefold coming of Jesus Christ. He comes as an infant, born to our Blessed Mother. He comes to us in the Eucharist. He will come again, in the Second Advent.   While it is the work of God’s grace that brings forth all that we wait for, we have the ability to clear the way in our lives and our hearts to make room for his coming.

Making space is not an easy task. It requires rearrangement and emptying. It requires a willingness to let go of what may be obstructing the way of what or who is important. It begs the questions, “Am I ready?”; “What must happen for me to have room for Jesus?”

This year, I invite you to consider Advent in a way you may not have before. If Christmas is the season of celebration, Advent is the season of preparation, of anticipation. Will your Advent look very like Christmas, or will you allow it to unfold like winter? What might be different for you between now and December 25th?

Mary’s experience of that first Advent can be an inspiration for us as we consider how to spend the next four weeks preparing ourselves for the great feast of Jesus’ Nativity. Mary, the young girl given the overwhelming task of bringing God’s child into the world, learned in the fullest physical sense the power of making room for God to dwell within. We may not be the physical bearers of Christ, but Mary’s story offers us an invitation to follow her example, to prepare for the arrival of Jesus.

Advent in us begins with the hard inner work of making space for the coming of Jesus. If we are waiting for Jesus to be born, if we are preparing for him along with Mary, what should that spiritual work look like? Might we cultivate a greater awareness of Jesus in ourselves? Are we able to stop and rest and listen for him between shopping trips and Christmas baking? Are we willing to postpone some of our celebratory practices when the feast truly arrives? Are we willing to make space for anticipation, aware that the changes in us reveal a deeper work beneath our understanding?

Spiritual growth is also far from measurable. But what if this Advent we were to live with a knowing—an awareness—that God is doing something new within us, that we are making space in our lives for Christ?

Of course, making space for Jesus is not easy. Bringing forth life never is. It demands we empty ourselves to make room. It means we may need to reevaluate the patterns and commitments in our lives. We may need to sort through the wild busyness of our daily tasks in order to discover what is really necessary, what gives life to us and the people around us, what leads us into God’s presence. We may actually need to learn how to truly rest.

Perhaps Advent, the busiest season of the year, is also an invitation to take stock of our spiritual health, our priorities. Is it possible to make room for Jesus in the frantic rush of Christmas parties and service projects? Can we calm our mental shopping lists and anxious calendar planning, and ask ourselves if our souls need some rearrangement?

We can follow in Mary’s footsteps: letting go of control and recognizing that God’s work in us is miraculous and grace-filled. We can practice the holy work of wonder and of gratitude.

In this, the first week of Advent, let’s commit to intentional awareness of the gift of grace, through our Lord Jesus. Let’s consider ways to discover anew the work of grace in our work, our lives and our relationship with God. What might our Advent be like if we committed to some form of fast, dedicated ourselves to more time in prayer and silence with God? What if we waited for those cookies until Christmas? What if we spent an hour each week in front of the Blessed Sacrament or added a weekday Mass (or two) to our frantic calendar? What if we lit our Advent candles each day, but waited to plug in the Christmas tree until Christmas comes?

We are invited to an Advent beyond the hustle of pre-Christmas franticness and into God’s gentle presence. Advent may actually become a quiet inner-voice (in the midst of a loud season of noise and demands) asking us to pay attention:

Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming.

Make room and wait.

Lisa Amos

Pastoral Associate

 

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