Dec 5, 2007

Advent I -- Awake!

Growing up, I attended the Episcopalian Church with my family. Although not quite as liturgical as the Catholic Church, it nonetheless faithfully followed the church calender throughout the year. Surprisingly, the church year begins again -- not after Easter, which always seemd to make sense to me -- but during Advent, that season during which we await the arrival of Christ in the infant Jesus.

As a child, the meaning of Advent was largely restricted to the opening of an Advent calender each day, and counting down the days until Christmas. But in reality, Advent is a time not just of joyful anticipation, but of somber anticipation as well. It's similar to Lent in that it's a season of examination, of preparation for a special event the meaning of which we may not truly understand. It's true, we are awaiting the arrival of Christ, and that's exciting. But it's also extremely serious in a way that is somewhat lessened by the festive nature of the season in our culture. Don't get me wrong -- I love the excitement of the season. But it's only been recently that I've genuinely understood the true meaning of Advent, and been able to participate in its richness, in both the solemnity and the joy.

The theme for the first week of Advent was Awake! Below is the community's reading for the week. Since Advent actually began on December 2nd, this reading is a week behind. Hopefully you can jump in now, if you like, and savor the anticipation that the season beings.

Advent I: Awake

Wake up! Rub away the comfort of drowsy eyes and take a look around. We live in a world of injustice and pain... Can you see it? Can you hear it? It echos from the groaning of the earth consumed by greed, to the cry of the refugee torn from her country, to the silence of the man sitting cold and alone on the park bench downtown.

Advent calls us to become aware of the need for healing, for hope, and for help. Advent calls us to be awakened to the need for Messiah.

As the faithful waited for the advent of the Messiah many years ago, their longing was filled with the desperation of those on the margins. During this Advent, let's participate in that desperate expectancy by remembering and confronting the brokenness and struggle around and within us.... so awaking ourselves both to the need for and hope of God's life-renewal.

Some suggestions for action:

· Fast this week... skip lunch, or simply eat rice and beans for supper. Remember those for whom choosing what or whether to eat is not an option.
· Donate time and money saved by fasting to the Catholic Action Center or Lexington Rescue Mission
· Sit outside for an hour... on your porch, in the park, where ever. Experience the cold and remember those with whom you share this hour.
· Donate a pair of gloves and a winter hat to Kentucky Refugee Ministries as they welcome folks relocating to Lexington who are not used to the cold of winter.

Read Scripture:

1. Mark 14: 32-42 - your eyes are very heavy…keep awake!
2. Matthew 24:37-44 - be awake and ready
3. Romans 13:8-14 – now is the moment for you to wake from sleep.

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