A Meditation for Advent


Blessed are you, God of mercy and might,
with tender comfort and transforming power
you come into our midst.

You remember your ancient promise
and make straight the paths that lead to you
and smooth out the rough ways,
that in our day
we might bring forth your compassion
for all humanity.

For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Blessed be God for ever! AMEN

What am I waiting for?

A voice says, 'Cry out!'
And I say, 'What shall I cry?'
When words seem futile
and they seem inadequate
and they seem heavy.

What shall I say? 

What am I waiting for?

I wait for a return to our eternal home. 
That place of promise where things are as they should be.
The place just beyond the veil that covers my own eyes.
That place on the other side of the mirror
or the other side of the Universe?

I wait for God, the origin of all that is spectacular and plain.
As if I knew what to look for, being rather unaccustomed
to paying attention to the plain,
and rather bad at recognizing the spectacular even
when it unfolds gently before me
in unexpected places.

Isaiah says:  "the word of our God will stand for ever."

I wait for that word... because it sometimes seems silent.
And I forget that, in that silence, God waits with me.
I wait for lighting bolts
and great revelations
as though the Incarnation
were not enough.
The Word made flesh
who dwelt among us
and dwells among us
Incarnating among us
and in us
and with us
Until the end of time.

Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
'Here is your God!'

What am I waiting for?

I wait for the One whom eternity cannot contain.
Large enough to surpass the Universe and all that we know and sense and feel...

and yet still small enough to slip through our fingers
to slip through the cells and the atoms and the particles
into infinite smallness.

I wait for the One who is more than time
and space, and quantum physics, and string theories

And I forget that we worship One whose name is Emmanuel:
God with us.

See, the Lord God comes with might,
God will feed these flocks like a shepherd;
God will gather the lambs in upraised arms,
and carry them in a soft bosom,
and gently lead the mother sheep.

I wait for the One who inhabits the Universe
and entered time with the wails of a tiny Child.
One who is infinitely strong
and infinitely vulnerable
One who needs nothing from us
and yet desires everything that we have.

One whose self-emptying sacrifice and love
was laid in a feeding trough
in a tiny backwater town
in a tiny backwater province
among a peculiar people.
One with dubious parentage
who was swaddled
by a woman of ill repute.
One who would know rejection
more intimately
than I have ever known.

A mewling baby... our God,
helpless and at the mercy of the world.
Too young for words
Too young for ideas
The Eternal One... too young.

I forget that we grown-ups often,
if not always,
get it wrong.

I think... one day I will be wise
Age will make me wise.
Experience will make me wise.

I forget that I should be like a child.
But I forget that life is a choice between wise and jaded
and that I can easily fall one way
or another
depending upon my mood.

What am I waiting for?

I wait for that life which informs our living;
for Christ's compassion which changes our hearts;

I forget that God cannot be contained by our grand theologies and
our random exclusions.
Cannot be contained by our certainties
and cannot be pushed away by our doubts.

What am I waiting for?

I wait for Christ's clear speaking which contradicts our harmless generalities;
for Christ's disturbing presence;

I forget that Christ does not permit me to remain silent
on issues of faith, on morals, on issues of war and peace;
And I forget that for all my words
I often say nothing of any meaning
or spend too much time reducing the world
to delightful platitudes
and ultimately meaningless sound bytes.

I wait for Christ's innocent suffering;
Christ's fearless dying;
Christ's rising to life breathing forgiveness;

Because while I deal with the complexities
of my own internal life;

While I struggle to be better:
a better partner
a better listener
a better friend and colleague

While I unpack the meaning of my Christian life
what it means to be a brother among brothers
to serve rather than to be served;

While I try to listen to the voice of God
and look for the face of Christ

I forget that it is as close as the nearest mirror
or the nearest friend;
and that God speaks in the softest whisper
of my conscience, or the unnoticed "hello."

I forget that Christ has already done
what he set out to do:
That God lived our human life
died a human death
and that he rose again;

Having been rejected, God triumphed.
Having been an outcast, God embraces
one and all
with arms bared in rage at our petty divisions.

What am I waiting for?

Isaiah says again: "Go up to a high mountain,
herald of good tidings to Zion;
lift up your voice with strength,
herald of good tidings to Jerusalem.

Lift up your voice, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah, 'Behold your God!'"

When is the beginning I await if it has already begun?
Do I trust the Spirit to rise up within me?
The Spirit who, from the beginning, attracts us to God's goodness
who even now confronts us with God's claims.

I forget that God is already with us
and that I need to trust
that God's plan is unfolding
in spite of my fears and doubts to the contrary.

And I forget that the Holy Spirit
allows me to say such things;

That it is She who gives voice
to words which still astound me
regardless of how many years they have been said.

What am I waiting for?

Do I forget that I already have God's permission
to speak the Good News;
to give hope to the hopeless?

Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
'Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
God will come and save you.'

But I forget that praise alone
does not fulfill Gods purpose.

What am I waiting for?

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! 
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! 
God has taken away the judgments against you
do not let your hands grow weak. Your God, is in your midst, 
God will renew you in God's love; 
God will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. 
God says: I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. 
And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, 
and I will change their shame into praise and renown. 
I will bring you home.

My brothers and sisters:
as you prepare to reflect
on the Advent of God
as you search for meaning
in words like

Lay down your wisdom
and your will
and your words

search yourselves:
your hearts...
your faith...
your doubts...

empty your hearts,
bring nothing in your hands;

As we open to receive the Spirit
who converts us from the patterns of this passing world

As we trust to God to conform us to the shape of Christ

I ask you:

What are you waiting for?