Advent: A season of vulnerability

By The Rev. Cynthia Espeseth, St. Hilda St. Patrick Episcopal Church | Dec 14, 2011

In the Episcopal Church, which is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion (think Church of England), we have always celebrated the ancient tradition of Advent.

We count the four weeks leading to the celebration of Jesus who becomes the Christ. We even mark this special season by changing the liturgical colors of our church to Advent Blue or Purple.

Advent is a time of waiting, listening and preparation. It is not about buying presents, decorating a tree, or racing to see who can get more stressed out. Advent is an intentional time for reflection, wondering, anticipating.

I find it appropriate that in this part of the world we mark the time before the coming of our Lord in deepening darkness.

The daylight hours get shorter and shorter, as we become more and more immersed in the mystery and the darkness of the womb that grew the child who is the Son of God. A conception that has offered a historical conundrum for centuries.

As we watch and wait and prepare, we light a candle in our Advent wreath, one each Sunday. And we are invited by God to take this time to listen to the stirrings of our souls; to prepare our hearts and minds for the most amazing gift.

We are invited to open ourselves up to this mystery that God has the audacity of hope to come among us, in the hope that we might learn to love one another more deeply.

The Rev. Phyllis McCormick, Deacon Emeritus at St. Hilda St. Patrick Episcopal Church, offers the following Advent meditation. May her gift invite you to consider how you prepare for Christmas.

Advent: A season of vulnerability

As the small flame of my Advent wreath lights up the darkness of this winter morning there is no doubt that this season marks special moments in time.

The journey to Bethlehem has begun. This spiritual crossing from darkness to light is one we make every year and each year new thoughts and soul wanderings make themselves known.

This year the thought that invades my mind is the incredible vulnerability of all the parties in this Christmas story. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Magi risk everything when they say "yes" to God.

Only great love can fuel this kind of risk. And love is always vulnerable. Only love attends Jesus' birth. So the question arises, "How, at this moment of our lives are we called to this kind of vulnerability, what are the things we dare not risk?"

This becomes the Advent meditation; this can become our preparation for Christmas.

I have difficulty in remembering that God is so immediately present in everything, particularly in my relationships with family, friends and community.

If God can be put aside a bit it is easier to ignore Jesus’ commandment of love. It is easier to ignore the fact that to love completely means to forgive completely, no judgment.

It is so easy to trip up on the self-satisfaction of my own righteousness, on my own pride and forget the many times I have been forgiven, no questions asked.

To simply be in a state of forgiveness enables me to have an open heart and an open soul. Does that sound foolish, a risky business? But this attitude of being can break open the darkness in our hearts.

This kind of vulnerability can make the coming of Jesus a real presence in our individual lives and in our communal lives. Jesus, Emmanuel, eternally loving, eternally forgiving, risking it all for us. This is the gift.
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