“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you, while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as they had not heard of from of old. No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.” – Is 63:19; 64:2-3
At this time of the year, there is much anticipation. The shopping season is beginning; the holidays are coming; final papers and exams are looming; other yearnings - surface cravings as well as deep desires - are stirring within us. Among these longings are those for new beginnings.
The Advent Season is about waiting for new dawns and celebrating new beginnings. Today we begin the liturgical year. Today we begin new responses and prayers at Mass, guided by the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal. Today we begin four weeks of anticipation and hope to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior.
To be honest, I feel both eager expectation as well as uneasiness about what is to come. I woke up last week at 7:30 am in Anchorage, Alaska eager to begin a new day. Instead, I was greeted by two more hours of darkness. I am excited for new developments in ministry to young adults and online, for an upcoming Advent retreat at a nearby parish, for connecting CLC members with God’s poor, for a wedding of two good young people, for the grace of deeper trust that has been growing in me. Yet, I am also a bit wary about the busy-ness of this over-commercialized and super-packed pace season; I feel my resistance to God more acutely through the challenges of integrating prayer, caring for others, and self-care; I struggle with the fact that the new wordings at Mass will initially be less prayerful.
I believe that Jesus-God comes to us anew. As we remember his coming 2,000 years ago; as we await his Second Coming in the parousia; as we are open to his surprising presence in our lives today. I hope for these new dawns. To see things anew, to be awakened from my spiritual laziness, to dare see people I find questionable as God’s Beloved; to risk embracing my limitation and sinfulness without settling. The Jesuit John Powell once wrote that “Jesus comes to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” This describes me accurately. While I wait with hope for hint of a new dawn, I struggle in befriending the present manifestations of fearful night and seductive darkness. For the night is darkest just before the dawn, according to Irish wisdom. Yet, it is good that we wait together, for the coming One whose “awesome deeds we could not hope for.”
What are you looking or longing for this season? How or with whom or are you waiting?
For more Advent prayer resources, click here.