Week One: Keep Alert … Keep Awake… (Mark 13:33-37)
We begin our journey into Advent with the call to be attentive. What are we being called to be attentive to? Is it not the call to be attentive to the presence of God in all that we encounter? Is it not the call to recognise God in the person I meet at home and on the street, the neighbour and the stranger, the citizen and the refugee? Is it not the call to be conscious of God in the fragile flutter of the butterflies wings, the hum of the bumble bee, the touch of the soil, the smell of the winter leaves on the ground, the sound of the running stream, or the gentle whisper of the cool breeze?
Indeed, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God” (G M Hopkins). All around us God awaits to be encountered for “everything is a matter for sacrament” (Rolheiser). Elizabeth Browning says,
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.
During this first week of Advent we have ample opportunity to be aware of the world around us; when we mark World Soil day, the Prevention of Genocide day and world Human Rights Day. Each of these days invites us to engage with our contemporary world and pleads for our response.
Jesus comes proclaiming a message of hope, freedom, new vision and liberation:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free. (Luke 4: 18)
Jesus addresses us when he says,
I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. (Matthew 25:35-36)
This Advent we are urged to encounter God in the ordinary humdrum of our lives. We are encouraged to be actively conscious of God in all of creation. It is an invitation to acknowledge God as Emmanuel (God with us). So, as we journey towards Christmas let us genuinely “take off our shoes” each time we recognise “every common bush” and every single person, including ourselves, as “afire with God.”
LISTEN: A Hallelujah Christmas by Cloverton
CONSIDER: : An Advent calendar