An Advent Paradox: Waiting For What We Cannot See

Barnstorming

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I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
 My soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Psalm 130: 5-6 from a Song of Ascents

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Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps.
— Henri Nouwen from Bread For The Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith

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There is a seeking

“In our time there is a seeking, an anxious groping and searching for divine things.  A great loneliness has come over our time, a loneliness that is found only where godforsakenness reigns.  In the midst of our large cities, in the greatest, most frantic activity of untold masses of people, we see the greatest amount of loneliness and homelessness.

“But the longing grows that the time will nonetheless come again when God dwells among people, when God lets himself be found.  In the middle of this frantic activity and vociferous extolling of new ways and means stand the one word of Jesus Christ: ‘I am with you. . . ‘ (Matt. 28:20).  He does not prescribe ways in which we can reach him.  Rather, he says quite simply: “I am with you.”

“None of us lives a life so rushed that it is impossible for us to find even ten minutes a day, in the morning or evening, when we can let everything around us become quiet and submit ourselves completely to eternity, when we can let it speak to us and ask it about ourselves.  In that way we an look very deeply within ourselves and quite far beyond ourselves.  That might happen by looking at a few Bible verses or, even better, by becoming utterly free and letting our soul make its way to the Father’s house, to its home, in which it will find rest.”

Listen!  I am standing at the door, knocking:
if you hear my voice and open the door,
I will come in to you and eat with you,
and you with me.  (Rev. 3.20)

Advent and seeds

A reflection from Caryll Houselander:

A seed contains all the life and loveliness of the flower, but it contains it in a little hard black pip of  a thing which even the glorious sun will  not enliven unless it is buried under the earth.  There must be a period of gestation before anything can flower.

If only those who suffer would be patient with their earthly humiliations and realize that Advent is not only the time of growth but also of darkness and hiding and waiting, they would trust, and trust rightly, that Christ is growing in their sorrow, and in due season all the fret and strain and tension of it will give place to a splendor of peace.   (Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God, p. 36)

“Open the door!”

 The Light of the World
Holman Hunt

“In Advent, God does not first confront us with our sin; instead we are invited to prepare to make God welcome; we are invited to take the initiative, to find our best selves, to be willing to open the door to the baby in need.  God does not come into the world with a battering ram, but with a cry: open the door.”  (Jane Williams)

Advent Sunday

Advent Sunday

Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out
With lighted lamps and garlands round about
To meet Him in a rapture with a shout.

It may be at the midnight, black as pitch,
Earth shall cast up her poor, cast up  her rich.

It may be at the crowing of the cock
Earth shall upheave her depth, uproot her rock.

For lo, the Bridegroom fetcheth home the Bride:
His Hands are Hands she knows, she knows His side.

Like pure Rebekah at the appointed place,
Veiled, she unveils her face to meet His Face.

Like great Queen Esther in her triumphing,
She triumphs in the Presence of her King.

His Eyes are as a Dove’s, and she’s Dove-eyed;
He knows His lovely mirror, sister, Bride.

He speaks with Dove-voice of exceeding love,
And she with love-voice of an answering Dove.

Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go we out
With lamps ablaze and garlands round about
To meet Him in a rapture with a shout.

~Christina Rossetti