02 December, 2012

Await my soul

 (Today marks the beginning of the season called Advent.  Four the next four weeks I will be posting two Advent writings every Sunday as we approach Christmas.  Joining me in this effort is my dear friend, Scott Elliff from Corpus Christi, Texas.  We eagerly anticipate the coming of the Christ child with you.)

 Christmas is coming – have you noticed?  Lights are up, wreaths hung, Christmas trees are fully decorated and the stores are swarming with people shopping.  I already feel the peer pressure to ‘get decorated’.  Currently, I have a crooked, naked tree standing in my house.  It has lights on it but no decorations and there it awkwardly stands waiting for further attention. Waiting for someone to notice.  I’m pretty content to just let it wait…

However, when my children were young the tree was never waiting for long.  Every Christmas box was brought in and opened on the spot.  Every box within the box was opened and squeals of delight could be heard throughout our house.  The discovery of an old ornament, a memory retold, there was laughter and joy.  We were caught up in the delight of what was coming.  The exciting ‘wait’ of Christmas had started.

So these days, the house is quiet and the tree awaits my touch.  The wait of Christmas has started but in a less than dramatic fashion.  Which is good…
Henri Nouwen shares these words,
“I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and other’s of God’s saving power….Our temptation is to be distracted by them…When I have no eyes for the small signs of God’s presence-the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the words of encouragement and gestures of love offered by friends….”
“The small child of Bethlehem, the unknown man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, He asks for my full attention.  The work of our salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continues to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises.”  Henri J. M. Nouwen, GRACIAS! A LATIN AMERICAN JOURNAL
On this first week of December I’m waiting with quiet attention.  I hope to protect my mind and actions from the insane going, doing and buying of this season.  Oh, how I want to wait with great excitement and anticipation for the coming of Jesus!  But I also want and need to wait in prayerful, meditative silence.  My soul needs those quiet moments to realize God's gift to our world.
I think I want to be like the tree standing in my den.  Content to wait, anxious for the beauty that will soon adorn me when He comes again into my world…and yours.  Will you actively wait in anticipation with me?
I wait for the Lord,my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord     more than watchmen wait for the morning
Psalm 130:3-4

a word from Scott Elliff @ scottelliff.blogspot.com

Come, oh Just One, here descend…Like the rain, our drought attend…

It’s definitely dry in these parts.

News reports daily detail the impact of what is now believed to be one of the worst droughts since records were kept in this part of Texas.  What were once lakefront homes now seem strangely abandoned, their piers leading to nowhere.  Farmers planted in the Spring, and nothing came out of the ground in the Summer.   Lawns have gone to seed, and water restrictions will soon be upon us. Neighbor will no doubt turn against neighbor to secretly report those who dare to water their flowerbeds during prohibited hours.

Day after day, cloudless skies, unrelenting in their blueness, withhold from us the rain for which we have waited.

And waited.   And waited.

Waiting can be discouraging, frustrating, anxiety-producing.  In our society, addicted to instant gratification, even the shortest of waits tests our patience.  And waiting on something over which one has no control—like the rain—is a double-downer.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.

As I listened to the choir sing this well-known hymn this morning, the first Sunday of Advent, I thought of those exiled long ago who waited their entire lives to be restored to their homeland.  We lose our cool when we have to wait more than five minutes for a food order.  They waited for generations to be brought back from the Diaspora.

We enter the Advent season, a time of waiting for the Christ-child, each coming from a different experience.  For some of us, we begin from a place of abundance, peace, security.  Not such a bad place in which to wait.

And others enter Advent from a place of turmoil, despair, pain…or spiritual drought.  And waiting there can be unbearable.  The refrain, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel” is a personal and impassioned plea.  We are Israel, and we need to be restored.

The Spanish word esperar means “to wait.”  But the same word in Spanish also means “to hope.”  To me, this is what the “waiting” of Advent is about.  It is not staring in despair at the cloudless sky, waiting for the rain to come.  Advent “waiting” can lightened by the hope that Christ will eventually restore us from our exile, and attend to our spiritual drought like a soaking rain.

Prayer for today:  Come, Emmanuel, and rain your unconditional love on the dry and parched places in my soul. I wait with hope for the restoration you have promised.  Amen.

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