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Sunday December 2, 2018 First Sunday in Advent

December 2, 2018


Today’s scripture

Today we begin the season of Advent. Advent is the beginning of the church year, and though its meaning and focus has changed over the centuries from the way the early church observed it, it is for us a time of waiting and watching in anticipation of the birth of Jesus.

Justin Holcomb writes: “Advent symbolizes the present situation of the church…in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Israel looked back to God’s past gracious actions on their behalf in leading them out of Egypt in the Exodus, and on this basis, they called for God once again to act for them. In the same way, the church, during Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people.”

But for what, or whom do we wait, and what does that waiting mean for us? Who is this Person for whom we wait, and what is this kingdom?

That is the focus of this year’s Online Advent Calendar. Each day will feature an image for you to reflect on.  Who was/is Jesus? What is a Messiah? What are the characteristics or signs of God’s kingdom or realm? How are they shown in this image? How can we not only recognize them, but live our lives in alignment with them? What ought our response to be when we are confronted with evil, and how do we know what that is? Why are we waiting for Christ when He has already come?

In today’s first reading, from the book of Jeremiah, we get a glimpse of God’s priorities:
The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, in that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot ;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The LORD our justice.”

Three things jump out. First God’s word is trustworthy; God keeps promises. Second, the One who is to come will do what is right and just. Third, God wants people to be able to dwell in peace and safety.

But it’s not the security of a fortress that keeps us imprisoned in our fears while keeping everyone who isn’t like us out. It’s a whole different kind of safety and security, and the way to get there is by a very different path. We walk that path by following the Christ, Who is far more trustworthy than walls or weapons.

Who is that Person? How do we know what to look for? That’s what we’ll look at this Advent. In the days to come, there will be a series of images of Christ for you to pray with, and a kind of visio divina process to work through if you find that helpful. The images come with no identifying information, so that you can engage with them on their own terms, rather than with what you know about the artist or the painting.

And, because we’re a community of believers and our relationship with Christ is indistinguishable from our relationships with one another, I invite you to share whatever you can of your prayer with the other readers of these pages. There is a link to do that via email on each day’s page.  These sharings will be sifted and gathered each week, and posted on Saturdays through Advent.  Permission to use quotations from these reflections on the site without attribution will be assumed unless you indicate you do not want that; please also indicate whether or not I should use your name. 

Look for the first image tomorrow.

–Baya Clare, CSJ

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn permalink
    December 2, 2018 7:43 am

    Thanks, Baya… looking forward to being a part of this experience… Carolyn

  2. Mary Beth Stearns permalink
    December 2, 2018 8:25 am

    Thank you Baya! I look forward to this series every year! Happy Advent.

  3. Judith oberhauser permalink
    December 2, 2018 9:10 am

    Thanks BAya, I like the sense of adventure and searching you offer. My question is about the “path”. Does it lead us down into the depths of what we have already been taught where the mystics are? Does it lead outward into unknown zones? Does it lead each of us differently? How then do we find community? What IS the Church? How do we each navigate all this with peace and security since there are so few reliable ‘guides’? Judith

  4. MARY AND THOMAS DZIK permalink
    December 2, 2018 1:43 pm

    Good afternoon,

    Baya, I so appreciate your thoughts on the Advent readings. Do you ever work ahead, I ask because I am doing the homily for the 2nd week of Advent at St. Frances Cabrini and would so appreciate your thoughts to work with. Thank you for any effort that you may make for my request.

    peace, hannah mcgraw-dzik


  5. mbeckfeldcomcastnet permalink
    December 2, 2018 1:56 pm

    Thanks, Baya- now, more than ever, we need to enter into the Advent Season and accept the challenge you have presented to us – to see Christ working in our lives and the lives around us – I accept the challenge of entering this Advent Season with a sense of hope and centering myself in quiet time each day – peace to all –

  6. Margaret Sadler permalink
    December 2, 2018 4:25 pm

    Thank you, Baya. I look forward to this process. I also appreciate the comments above.

  7. Mary Ann Hanley permalink
    December 2, 2018 4:32 pm

    Thank you, Baya, for providing up with an opportunity for us to reflect on Christ’s coming to us and the world daily, especially during Advent, blessing a world filled with stress and hardship.

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