Monday, November 26, 2007

Preparing for Advent

I came across the following article today. I wanted to share this because it has some really powerful points and questions to ask yourself. I think everyone can get some benefit out of taking time to go through this. The answers to these questions are really tough, and some are unanswerable for me, yet. I will be spending some more prayer time with these questions.

Setting the Stage For Our Advent Journey, Even Before It Begins.
(From the website. They have a lot of really good stuff, go check it out!)

Getting in Touch with Myself

One of the best ways to prepare for the very special season of Advent is to "get in touch with ourselves." It may sound odd, but one symptom of our contemporary lives is that we can often be quite "out of touch" with what is going on in our very own hearts. We are about to begin our Advent, right at the time our Western culture begins Christmas preparations. It is a busy time, and our heads are filled with details to remember. And, it is a time of emotional complexity that is part of this holiday season - with all of the expectations and challenges of family and relationships: who we want to be with and who we struggle to be with. So, our hearts are a bit tender, if not completely defended from experiencing anything deeply.

We are about to hear some very powerful and stirring readings from Isaiah, the Prophet. We will re-enter the ancient tradition of a people longing for the coming of a Savior. We may remember the days of our childhood when we longed for Christmas to come, because it was a magical time of receiving gifts. As adults, we have to ask ourselves: "What is it I long for now?" The answer won't come easily. The more we walk around with that question, and let it penetrate through the layers of distraction and self-protection, the more powerfully we will experience Advent.

Salvation From

We are about to read and pray about the expectant hope of Israel, as expressed through Isaiah. The images we will be using are about darkness and gloom - about thick clouds covering the people - and about hunger and thirst. They are images that attempt to capture a sense of what we feel when we are distant from our God. There are many images about war and conflict. They express the powerlessness and anxiety we experience when we feel vulnerable and defense-less. Most of all, there are images of a future day - a day that can only be called the Lord's - when all the tears will be wiped away, when there will be plenty to eat and drink, and when there will be no more conflict and no more war. God's salvation will be made known. God's victory will be complete.

These are very precious days for us to come into intimate contact with our own need for salvation. It is a time to make friends with our tears, our darkness, our hunger and thirst. What is missing? What eludes my grasp? What name can I give to the "restlessness" in my heart? What is the emptiness I keep trying to "feed" with food, with fantasy, with excitement, with busyness? What is the conflict that is "eating at me"? What is the sinful, unloving, self-centered pattern for which I haven't asked for forgiveness and healing? Where do I need a peace that the world cannot give?

Coming to know where I need a Savior is how I can prepare for Advent. I am preparing to listen to the promises, listen to these rich texts announcing the liberation I can truly long for. When my heart is open, when my hands are open, when my mouth is open and ready to ask for freedom, healing and peace, then I am ready to begin Advent.