First Sunday of Advent
Each day is growing shorter as we approach the winter solstice. We are experiencing the darkest days of the year. Once the solstice occurs, earth begins its journey back toward the sun, and, even as we face the barren, cold days of winter, little by little, the days become longer. Light returns. The season of Advent reflects this experience of distance and closeness, darkness and light, visible and invisible. This patience in paradox is the experience of Advent. It is the paradox that God can be expressed through what is human. It holds the vision of a creation that is whole and integrated where our spirits are set free, our blindness, deafness, and violence are healed, and we live in hope. It calls us to be patient in the darkness even as we work to enflesh the promise that the light of Jesus Christ brings: that all people and all things can grow into the unity and peace of God’s reign. We bring into our Advent reflections the needs of this earth, the cries of the hungry, the suffering, the poor and the oppressed, the pain of all who are lonely and unloved, the longing among all for unity and goodwill, and the yearnings of earth’s people for peace.
A people in darkness have seen a great light.
Create an Advent wreath to ritualize these four weeks of advent. Let it be a reminder for you to reflect on the deeper reasons and values you hold that underlie the demands made on you as you prepare for Christmas.
It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.
For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;
the night is advanced, the day is at hand.
The time of Advent that we begin again today returns us to the horizon of hope, a hope that does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God.
Advent is the spiritual season of hope par excellence, and in this season the whole Church is called to be hope, for itself and for the world. The whole spiritual organism of the mystical body assumes, as it were, the ‘color’ of hope.
Pope Benedict XVI
One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along, that while we need to be reassured of God’s arrival, or the arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home. While we wait, we have to trust, to have faith, but it is God’s grace that gives us that faith. As with all spiritual knowledge, two things are true, and equally true, at once. The mind can’t grasp paradox; it is the knowledge of the soul.
Michelle Blake, The Tentmaker
The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before… What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.
Jan L. Richardson
Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.
Christmas has lost its meaning for us because we have lost the spirit of expectancy. We cannot prepare for an observance. We must prepare for an experience.
When Christ entered our world, he didn’t come to brighten our Decembers, but to transform our lives.
Let’s approach Christmas with an expectant hush, rather than a last-minute rush.