The moment I sat down to write this article is the moment it finally dawned on me that this Sunday marks the First Sunday of Advent. “How did it get here already?”, I ask myself, wondering how I could have lost track of time so completely. It’s easy to let myself be convinced that it’s only because things have been busier than usual here at St. Peter’s.

However, if I’m honest with myself, I remember that Advent seems to sneak up on me every year. Obviously, there’s no better time for me to allow Advent to slow me down, to make room to prepare myself and be ready.

This is exactly what Luke is trying to impart upon us in the gospel for this weekend. “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and [the day of Christ’s coming] catch you by surprise like a trap.”

We could think about this warning in another way, such as “Be watchful. Be ready. Be careful to keep your wits about you and your thoughts on His return!”

It’s more than a mere call to readiness. It’s an invitation to view our wait from another perspective. We are all waiting for something in our personal lives, such as the results of a medical test, word from an estranged child, grades from our first set of finals this school year, the safe return of a loved one from a tour of duty or any other deeply anticipated and prayed-for event. Whatever the case, we know the challenge of waiting, the stress of waiting, the anxiety of waiting.

The message for us is this: committing ourselves to put our waiting to good use may not remove our waiting, but it may affect its character. It can, and should, affect our character.  Let’s not fail to see that the greatest guidance for us in Scripture may not be limited to the dramatic events of the nativity and crucifixion (as vital as they may be), but also the time sandwiched between them—the time of Jesus’s teaching and preaching and his Passion. This “in-between time,” though fraught with tension, is nevertheless also characterized by hope, as both the beginning and the ending of the story of the Church—and therefore of our story—which has been secured by Christ. We are therefore free to struggle, to wait, to work, to witness—indeed to live and die—all with hope, because we know the end of the story.

It’s the promise that, at the end of our wait, we will find that it’s been worth every day and week of patient anticipation.  When, upon reaching The Nativity of Our Lord, Luke will tell us that all the heavens will sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests!” (Luke 2:14)

This year, our Advent reflection book is Theotokos; the title is an ancient name for Our Mother, meaning “God-bearer.”  I am excited to be able to offer these to you this year, as we prepare together, not for the day of Christmas, but for the person of Christ.

From the introduction to Theotokos, “There is no better way to prepare for a person than to prepare with a person. Thus, we spend time this Advent preparing for Jesus with the woman who spent the very first Advent preparing for Jesus.  We spend this Advent with Mary, the theotokos. . . Welcome to Advent, for we will prepare. Welcome to Mary, for she will teach you about her Son.”

Theotokus is meant to be used as a retreat. I encourage you to use this opportunity to do just that. Retreat from the every day. Retreat from your tasks and lists. Retreat, for a short time, from the people who surround you, even the ones who fill your heart with joy, for even they can be a distraction.

This time of year, this retreat, this person of Christ for whom we prepare, strongly suggest that our adoration chapel, aptly named The Chapel of the Nativity, may be the perfect setting for your own preparations. Open nearly every hour throughout the week, it’s hard to argue that there’s even one among us who doesn’t have at least some time to visit Him there. Bring your copy of Theotokos and work your retreat with Him. Pray the rosary more slowly than ever before, truly meditating on the mysteries. Do nothing but be present and allow yourself to become aware of how much He loves you and desires your affection and attention.

God bless you as we wait together in hope and faith.

Blessed Advent!

Lisa Amos
Director of Mission and Ministry


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