Friday, November 25, 2011

Advent Reflections

Advent: ‘The Lord is coming: we prepare to celebrate!’

Another Advent. Advent is the time to prepare to let God come to us. God comes to us always. God is with us (That is what the name ‘Emmanuel’ means). But the question is: how far are we with God? We are so distracted by a thousand different things; we forget; we chase after many things that are not really important. So we need to prepare ourselves to receive Him, to become aware of His presence. Hence, Advent gives us time to prepare ourselves to let God come into us.

The word Advent derives from the Latin word (Adventus) meaning ‘coming’. Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. The season of Advent serves as a reminder both of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of the Messiah as well as the waiting for Christ's return.
The central theme and reflection of Advent season is ‘The Lord is coming and we celebrate His coming’ at the Birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. ‘During Advent we recall the history of God's people and reflect on how the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament were fulfilled. This gives us a background for the present. Today we can reflect on the past track-record of God and so begin to understand what it means to us now, looking to our own future and that of our world.’

God comes to us to save us from what we are experiencing now: spiritual emptiness, walking in darkness in the desert, dryness in our attitudes and relations…etc. What happens when God comes to us? Our lives are transformed. His coming becomes a reality in fullness when we accept Him into our hearts and lives, when we begin to follow His ways and teachings, when we begin to do what He did…and it is here that our lives are transformed into His own true image and likeness, and we are awake and watchful. Thus, we give full meaning to the season of Advent.

How can we have hope and expect God will come to us? The Advent readings open up a whole series of promises, full of powerful images that keep reminding us that our God will come to save us. They free our imaginations to see and experience that coming with drama and joy – a banquet with “choice wines and rich, juicy food.” They invite us to imagine when “a time will come for singing.” They give us the opportunity to hope beyond our wildest hopes in the past – “the lion will lie down with the lamb” and “they will prepare for war no more.” They open our hearts to imagine the love of our God embracing us in the coming of one like us, who knows our life and its struggles and offers us the hope of the Spirits presence with us every day, in every moment.

What are the key first steps to enter into Advent? We can all slow down. We can all breathe more deeply. We can all begin to trust that this will be a blessed time. Then, when we let ourselves be who we are, and hear the Scriptures, we can begin to quietly pray, “Come, Lord, Jesus.” We might expand that prayer, in quiet moments of our days ahead, “Come into my life. I trust you don’t mind if it is still messy. I believe you love me, because I need your love. I don’t fear you can’t find the way to my heart. Come and fill me with peace and the love only you can give.” “Come, Lord, Jesus, come into this house, into my family, into our struggles. Come and heal us, and give us joy again”.

In this way, before a single decoration goes up, we will have prepared for the Christmas message. We will have prepared our hearts – the most important preparation we could ever do.

Wishing you all a blessed and fruitful season of Advent.

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