Monday, November 28, 2011

The First Sunday of Advent

You, LORD, are our father,
our redeemer you are named forever.
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not. 
The first reading from yesterday, taken from Isaiah, is quoted above. Entering into the great season of Advent, many of us were encouraged yesterday to examine our lives and to look for those places we were in need of our savior, for those places where we are weak and struggling - those places where we can sense how remote we have become from God - and to call out to the Lord that we might be reunited. 

Advent's theme is to wait and to watch and to come to want the coming of the Messiah. The Church's prayer can be summoned up in a single word, Maranatha, or "Come, Lord Jesus." How many of us can look back on this past year and cry out:

  • Come, Lord Jesus, in the muck and mire of my life. I am lost and have no idea of where I am to turn. I sense that you are calling out to me, but I cannot raise my head from the earth in order to see you...please, give your hand to me.
  • Come, Lord Jesus, I am a part of a Church too-frequently given over to acts of galling hypocrisy. Restore the hearts and minds of its members and reinvigorate its body that it might live out boldly the Gospel in a world that thirsts for the Good News.
  • Come, Lord Jesus, and soften the hearts hardened by cynicism and indifference. Rather than viewing creation as a cold and meaningless void, inspire us with a sense of wonder and awe that you are the innermost reality of all. 
  • Come, Lord, Jesus, for in the wake of suffering and loss, I wonder if I even believe any longer. I realize now that the 'god' of my illusion-free life has failed and I stand now, alone, amidst the debris of the temple that I constructed in its my likeness. Raise these stones and create a new Temple according to your plan...for then I shall have a home worthy of worshipping within.
Each of our hearts cries out each day and it is  part of the discipline of prayer to come to know just what it is that moves within our hearts. In a special way, however, the Church across the world unites its voice during Advent to cry out, "Come, Lord Jesus!" as we invite Jesus into our reality.

The challenge of this should not be underestimated. Do we have the courage to pray this with our whole heart, for what would happen if our prayer were answered? Would we be willing to respond generously, wholly, and freely to the call of discipleship? Our prayer is "Come, Lord Jesus," and not, "Come on my terms and according to my plans, Lord Jesus." 

Perhaps each of us might take a few moments in the next few days to think back on our lives. Where, upon reflection, do you need the Mercy of God to enter into your chaos? Where do you need the Savior to break into the confines of your life and offer you liberation? Where do you feel a darkness in need of light? Where, in the deepest depths of your being, does the prayer, "Come, Lord Jesus" well up and strain to be cried out to the heavens...if only you will give voice to it? 

No comments: