“Keep Calm and Carry on.”
As we begin this reflection, sit back and ask yourself what thoughts, words, or ideas stood out for you in our reading. Usually these are not complete ideas or sentences. They are most often tiny fragments of something that catch our attention as if out of the corner of our eyes. Take a moment to name these somethings and jot those names down. Once you have done this ask yourself what these fragments might be trying to elicit from you. Carry this reflection on the shelf of your imagination as you begin your day.
The title of our reading for today is “Active Waiting.” The portion that caught my attention was the WWII poster “Be Calm and Carry on.” This slogan reminds me of a mantra a friend of mine often repeats in difficult moments, “Pray and proceed.”
I think our authors understanding of the WWII slogan holds true for my friends saying as well. That is that they have the power to “create a reflective spirit in the hearts of the people” in the midst of very trying times.
A reflective spirit would come in handy today. This is especially true when it feels as if most of what you have based your life on is coming under question and challenge. In this way, today’s Advent season is no different from the first. For at least 2,000 years the children of Abraham and the followers of Jesus have waited for the revealing of God’s ultimate purposes in the world. All of us seek this resolution in the midst of lives which seem caught in the tide of change.
This week, as Emmanuel draws near let’s practice “Keep Calm and Carry on,” with a great deal of prayer.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering,
persevere in prayer. – Romans 12:12
Once again, let’s begin by taking a moment to ask what thought, word, or phrase stood out for us. Name those seeds of inspiration and write them down. Now take a few minutes to look at what you have written and ask yourself what doors of reflections these fragmentary notions have opened for you. Now carry this reflection with you as you begin your day.
Our author titles this morning’s reading “Discernment.” In this reflection she writes about how difficult it can some times be to discern when it is time to act or time to wait. Her reflection reinforces the idea that there are appropriate times for each. In my experience acting and waiting are enriched by each other. A life of perpetual action can become frenetic, unproductive, and at times destructive. A life that is perpetually waiting and reflecting can loose touch with the common experience of humanity. It can also loose it’s relevance. It seems our Creator has fashioned us and the world we live in in such a manner that a balance between the active and reflective lives is to be desired.
I am reminded of one of my favorite prayers in the Book of Common Payer.
This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring
forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I
am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still,
help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it
patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly.
Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit
of Jesus. Amen. (BCP 461)
Advent is the season of waiting. Let us do so with patience, and gallantly.
O tarry and await the LORD’s pleasure; be strong,
and he shall comfort your heart; wait patiently for the LORD. – Psalm 27:18
The title of today’s reading is “Excavation.” What thought, word, or phrase stood out for you? Please take a few minutes to name those inspirations that flashed through your consciousness. Write them down. Then sit back and reflect a bit on what is welling up in you. Please feel free to share your thoughts by responding below.
I was captivated by our author’s reference to “spiraling down” in times and places of prolonged waiting. Occasionally I have experienced a waiting that seems to move farther and farther away beyond my control. What was once voluntary, takes on it’s own life, and I have no choice but to wait for an unforeseen movement or end. The longer this situation continues the more trapped one can feel. This can truly be a spiraling down.
These notions remind me of my friends in the 12 Step programs. They are familiar with spiraling down until they hit bottom. In addition they know it is only at this bottom something new begins.
In a way this Advent season of waiting is not only four about waiting four weeks. It is also about waiting patiently on the Lord through out our lives. This can seem like a very long wait indeed. Maybe another way to experience this Holy waiting is a state of openness in which we open ourselves and quietly go more deeply in our relationship with the God of all Creation. When we “hit bottom” in God we will have found a firm foundation indeed.
I will put my law within them,
and I will write it on their hearts. – Jeremiah 31:33b
Today’s reading is titled “The Word is very near you.” It is a short reading. But profound none the less. As is our custom, take a few minutes to ask yourself what thought, word, or idea stood out for you in this reading. Name those and jot down a word or two about each. Now, sit back and quietly ask yourself what these standout notions are saying or calling to your attention. Sit with the answers that come to you for a few minutes.
I was captivated by the image of our author quietly sitting before a consecrated communion host on display in a monstrance. This image carried me back to a parish I was a part of whose custom was to engage in the same act of adoration.
For Christians, this season of Advent is a time to sit and wait in anticipation of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Another way to say this is we wait for the incarnation of the Word of God. As the feast of Christmas draws nearer we are reminded that the Word is near, and already present in many ways. The Eucharist is one. Another is the presence of Christ which has enfolded us since our baptisms.
I will spend this day reflecting of the ways The Word is at work inscribing God’s ways in my heart. These ways include the awareness of the need to love, have compassion and empathy, forgive, and strive for the right and just. I wonder what more the Word of God will write in my heart (our hearts) in the days and years to come.
Stand up, take your mat and walk. – John 5:8
Today’s reading from the book “What are you waiting for” is the chapter titled Overcoming Paralysis. Please take a moment to ask yourself what thought, word, or phrase in this reading captured your attention. Do not attempt to describe or explain these passing notions to yourself. Simply give each a one or two word name. Write those names down. Now sit with what you have written, and ask yourself what do these names say to you.
I was captivated by the author’s words, “many are immobilized by the holidays and its press of demands.” She proceeded to categorized these demands under the headings of fear, denial, and self-deception. I confess that as she was discussing these three, I was off on my own path of reflection.
I was reflecting on the power this holiday season has to hold up an idealized image of how things “should” be in our lives, families, careers, and faith. For many those “should’s” have as much power to paralyze as anything else. There are the demands of living up to other’s exceptions of us. There is also the demand of our own expectations for ourselves. It is easy to stand in the light of the Christmas tree and feel we do not measure up to the ideals the holiday’s remind us of.
This is an uncomfortable space within which to be immobilized. But maybe waiting in this space with the God whose power working within us is able to accomplish far more than we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20) is the ultimate path to walk to liberation.
Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat
falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a single seed;
but if it dies, it bears much fruit. – John 12:24
Please take a moment to ask yourself what thought, word, or phrase stood out for you in today’s reading. Don’t try to over think this. Simply capture that breath of something in a word or two. Write it down. Do not try to explain it to yourself or anyone else. Just sit with it and let it begin to unfold for you – naturally. If you would like to share what you have received, feel free to respond to this posting.
I was taken by our author’s likening the season of Advent waiting to a seed’s waiting. I like to garden. This is no easy task in southeast Alaska. Our weather is cold and rainy. The combination of these two mean the soil conditions are poor, and the growing season is short. Our seeds wait in the ground much longer than five days to germinate and sprout. Sometimes my wife and I watch and wait all summer for our seeds to come to life. Ultimately green shoots appear just in time.
The author’s butter beans have put me in mind of times of waiting in the dark, not having any idea of what might be next, and having no other choice but to wait. I believe all of us have known times like this.
Our author reminds us that even as the seed knows no future, something shifts in earthen bed, and the process germination takes place. Things happen in times of waiting.
Is the Holy Spirit causing something to shift or unfold within us at this Advent moment?
“I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him;
in his word is my hope. My soul waits for the LORD,
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.” Psalm 130:4-5
Please take a moment to ask yourself what stood out for you in today’s selection from “What are you waiting for?” This may be a fleeting thought, word, or phrase. Take a moment or two to reflect on these. One of those passing notions may be the seed of a word God has for you today.
I was captivated by the thought that we are able to wait on the Lord because we dare to hope there is something worth waiting for. When we look at the season of Advent through this light, the season’s focus is much larger than waiting. We might be able to call Advent the season of longing.
If you have a 1980 Hymnal handy, open it to the section in which the Advent hymns are found. Read two or three of these. You will find they are hymns of longing. They express a longing for the coming of the Lord, for justice, restoration, and the fulfillment of God’s promises. These musical treasures of the church provide a good introduction to what the church longs for during this season.
We wait because we stand on the ground of hope/trust that there is something worth waiting for. Ask yourself, “what am I waiting for this Advent, this year, and in my life?”