A few nights ago as I drove home over the causeway in Goose Cove, the tide was out, and the moon shone high over the cove. The moonlight transformed the mudflats into a silvery flat plane, and the still pools of water left after the receding tide reflected back the moon. It was very late, and above the moon, the brightest stars and planets lit the sky, bright yellow Jupiter among them. I drove slowly over the causeway, feeling the presence of Advent coming in, turning in the year, like the tide returning to the cove.
Though it is as regular as the seasons of nature, every year Advent season comes as a surprise to me. Though we begin getting ready “to get ready” here at church a few weeks before Thanksgiving, knowing that as soon as that holiday is over, we enter this festive season, I am still taken aback that we are here, standing again at the threshold of divine mystery.
Advent is a joyful penitential season, a beautiful slowing, a quiet turning again towards the Light that comes into the world in Christ. All the images we hear and sing about center on joyful expectations and deep longing, beginnings and endings, and new beginnings. The last months of pregnancy are often the longest, the slowest, and Advent is like that, too. Here is an invitation to slow the pace, to quiet the heart, to make room in the soul, to gather and collect ourselves in preparation for the heavenly choruses, wide-eyed shepherds, awed sages, and oh so human birth of Our Savior.
When Christmas carols are already playing round the clock on the radio, and streets are decked with lights and trees, we might find it a challenge to hold on to this preparatory season. Making room, taking time, finding space to ponder and pray, to empty and wait for God: these are invitations that move against the rush of the pending holidays. Yet, making the space is worth it. What is it that you need from God, this time of year? What grace do you desire? What is your hope?
My hope is that each of you will be filled with wonder, peace, joy, and rest, as we move toward the birth of Christ, that each day will have space and time for you to prepare, and to savor the gift of God’s love. This time can be a beautiful spacious opening in the year for renewal and refreshment. One of our friends recently sent a quotation from a great spiritual teacher, whose work Martin Luther would have known: Meister Eckhart. I close with his words as an invitation to Advent wonder:
What good is it to me if this (external/eternal) birth of the divine takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself? And what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace but I am not also full of Grace? What good is it to me for the creator to give birth to his son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and in my culture? This then, is the fullness of time when the Son of God is begotten in me.
May peace be with you.