Thursday, December 16, 2010

Time for Desert {Not Dessert}

Finding Sacred Silence
Joseph ties a knot to secure greens on the wreath.

Zachary teaches Peter the finer points of knot tying.

Hosting his grandkids in his shop, Grandpa Cliff teaches Violet and Sawyer basic wreath making skills.

Our newest Godson, Phillip, makes his very first Advent wreath, with help from Zachary.  
Phillip came to the US from Lethsoto about 4 months ago, after his mother died of AIDS.
His courageous Aunt Selloane and Uncle Mike are now his adoptive parents, and we ask you to pray for Phillip and his siblings: Patricia, David, Alex, and Michelle.

Three of the four Advent candles are lit, with one final violet candle awaiting ignition this Sunday.
The external preparations for Christmas are well underway: the tree is up and decorated; the stockings are hung; the Nativity scene awaits the babe; the wise men are journeying from afar (the other side of the living room) toward the stable (on the mantle); the countdown calendar is over half way decorated; a few gifts are wrapped and waiting under the tree.

What next?
Address the cards? More shopping? Hang the lights waiting in a pile on the windowsill?
Or do nothing... and simply wait?

Finding the time to truly prepare for Christmas, to make room in our hearts for the coming of Christ may require a trip to the desert, to an inner stillness where we can ponder God's amazing love for us and nourish our anticipation of His coming.  St. John the Baptist, so often present in our Advent Gospels, shows us by his dramatic example that in order to prepare the way of the Lord, we must first empty ourselves and find silence to make room for Him.

The excitement of this season can be overwhelming~ with Christmas music coming from every speaker, and images of holiday bliss plastering every ad.  Our senses are blasted with constant reminders that something very big is about to happen.  And yet somehow, we can completely miss the whole event, really, if we aren't prepared properly.

A friend recently admitted to Tim that until about three years ago, he didn't know that Christmas was the celebration of Christ's birth.  He was raised in an all-American, but non-believing home, with all the external Christmas hoopla, including piles of gifts to tear open on Christmas morning.  But he simply did not know nor was he ever taught what Christmas meant.  He admitted that once he understood that the birth of Christ was the reason for Christmas, suddenly all the Christmas songs made sense!  Wow.

How often do we take the time to discern what is meant by what we do~to be careful that we aren't just operating on auto pilot and charging our way through the season with our monumental to-do lists and holiday social engagements? When added to the already busy lives we tend to lead, this kind of reckless "doing" can make for very unpleasant moments when stress builds and patience wanes.

Making time for prayer and finding silence for reflection may be the greatest gift we could ever give (or receive).  Let us find time for the desert in these final days of Advent, so that our hearts may be truly prepared for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

Today's Gospel:

When the messengers of John the Baptist had left,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. 
“What did you go out to the desert to see a reed swayed by the wind? 
Then what did you go out to see? 
Someone dressed in fine garments? 
Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously
are found in royal palaces. 
Then what did you go out to see? 
A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 
This is the one about whom Scripture says:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
he will prepare your way before you.

I tell you,
among those born of women, no one is greater than John;
yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”

~Luke 7:23-28

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