Advent Reflections – Week Two
Advent is the season of the church year four weeks before Christmas. This Advent season we encourage you to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth with these daily reflections and/or in any other way that helps you to center on the true meaning of Christmas and the love of Jesus Christ.
Week Two – The Way
Making space for Christ may have less to do with finding time and more to do with losing everything. The call to “prepare the way of the Lord” is hard to answer without preparing to live in the way of Jesus, learning from him how to live life. In the gospels, Peter speaks for all the disciples and says to Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you.” Instead of re-evaluating what they could afford to give up, they just gave up everything. They realized they couldn’t afford not to.
- What if Jesus isn’t interested in being part of your life but, instead, wants the whole thing?
- What if he doesn’t want to improve your life, with a tweak here and there, as much as give you a new one?
When the word of God came to John the Baptist, he was in the wilderness. That’s also where the burning bush came to Moses, manna came to the Israelites, and the scriptures came to the tempted Jesus. It may be where you’ve been lately, for months, even, or for years: in a desert. Lost. If that’s where you are, look up. Stay alert. You’re in God’s country. In the words of Isaiah, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
- When have you experienced God’s silence?
- When did/will God break the silence?
The word that came to John the Baptist was “repent,” which means to change your ways, to turn around and head a different direction. To set the stage for Jesus, John proclaimed “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”–in other words, “Immerse yourself in going another way! Forgiveness is that way!” He was pointing to Jesus.
New Year’s resolutions and feelings of guilt won’t be enough to change our habits, change our beliefs, or change our overall direction in life. Finding forgiveness and accepting acceptance requires getting on a totally different path.
- What are you hoping will change?
- What can you change?
- How does God use “waiting” to change us?
The Advent journey isn’t a straight path to Christmas. It can be slow and meandering. It takes us inward and challenges us to confront the restlessness we cover up with so much busyness. It takes us out into the world, exposing us to cold places and hurting people. It will present us with a series of interruptions and inconveniences–on the way to Grandma’s, on the way to the party, on the way to church. Stalled on the path to wherever we think we should be going, we’ll see what we’re made of (and it might not be pretty). There could be a lot of tension, impatience, self-service, or self-loathing. Thank God for stopping you in your tracks!
- Have you spent more time this year clearing obstacles in your own path–or clearing the path for others?
- Who has God brought into your path during this season?
When Christ was born, news came first to a bunch of dirty shepherds way out in the fields, which is not who you’d expect. When Jesus rattled off a list of those who are now blessed because the Kingdom of the Heavens has come near, it included the least spiritual and the biggest losers, which is not who you’d expect. When he told a story about who, in God’s eyes, is a good neighbor, he made the Samaritan, his people’s most disgusted enemy, the hero, which is not who you’d expect. We really shouldn’t be surprised, though, since right from the beginning, the gospels say that Jesus was born to save the whole world. Luke 3:4-6, for instance, calls us to prepare for the coming of the Lord so that “all shall see the salvation of God.”
- Who would you be most surprised to find yourself praying for this Advent?
- Why does God often address our anticipation with the unexpected?