DECEMBER 9, 2023 - Reflection for Contemplative Prayer, Advent Week 2
Here comes Advent, right out in front of Christmas, bringing its on-purpose darkness like a blanket, gently laying it over us no matter what else is going on around us or within us. Advent is the whisper in the darkness, showing and telling us something that is real but hard to see or hear in the glare of LED light and the non-stop noise of our televisions and smart phones, breaking news, speeding traffic, neon geopolitics, florescent distractions, and 24-7 insistent commentary.
The darkness of Advent is a gift. A desperately needed pause. To wait on purpose for Jesus to come. Advent speaks tenderly and offers Comfort. Truth. Honesty. Hope. Peace.
It’s a hiatus that takes in reality as we know it, but turns our gaze to another reality too, a deeper one, a realer one, the one that lasts from the beginning to the end and holds us in between, even when we are not seeing it. Advent immerses us in this reality, prompting us to seek the God who comes in.
Advent is the night shift nurse after the painful surgery, the quiet, turned-down sheets of healing sleep. There is nothing here in the darkness that isn’t out there in the light – the wounds remain and the recovery continues. But here, in the shelter of Advent, waiting for God, we can talk about the hard things and the sad things and the confusing and frustrating things, where they don’t get to make us afraid.
And where fear is banished, hope is born. And peace grows stronger, and joy is tangible. When Love casts out fear, we are brought back to God’s reality, which looks so different from the red-faced blustering and flippant annihilation of the world.
Advent slows the pulse, pulls down the shades, and gently shushes us still. It readies us for a God who comes in in a ridiculously weak and vulnerable way – a senseless and undermining and eternal way. Not to rescue us out, but to share this life with us, to weave redemption right in the midst of it all and keep it all moving toward love.
Comfort my defeated people, God says. Tell them I see them. And they’ve paid way more in suffering than they ever deserved for whatever they’ve done. Speak tenderly, though, they’ve been through a lot. And they’re pretty hard on themselves. Gently, let them know they are free. Lead them into the way of peace.
This is the week of Advent that we orient toward peace. Peace is wholeness, fullness, true relationship with God and one another. Peace is life as God intended. It is the quality of everyone belonging to God and belonging to each other.
Last week, Mike Woods preached about Hope, and invited us into Advent through lullabies.
“Lullaby power is about being so grounded in what we believe in, what we love and live for, that we cannot be dragged down into meanness or despair. It holds our hope intact. Let’s think of lullabies as containers of hope.
Singing lullabies in the dark makes us ready to bring to bear in an instant, everything we stand for, everything we love, the principles we live by, the way we wish the whole world could work. This comes from a lifetime of singing, which is THE subversive thing we do in churches: singing with joy, singing in the face of death - singing to build our courage – singing hope into the shadows – singing of a world about to turn - singing to remember the kind of world we want to live in and hand on, and be the kind of people we God made us to be. So, the question isn’t whether or not we’re singing a song, the question is, “Are we in tune?”
Tonight we quiet the noise around us to hear the song. And we prepare our hearts to hear the song of peace all week long. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together. This is the promise. Tonight we listen to the promise of peace.