I am taking the titles for each of the four weeks of Advent from four reflections that I posted to this blog two years ago: Wondering in Stillness, Walking in the Light, Waiting with Joy, and Working for Justice. I would like to invite you to participate in an Advent retreat/workshop that I am leading at my church. As with last week’s post, this is not so much a reflection as an outline of day’s session.
Open with “Ready the Way” (2:48)) by Bob Hurd, 1986, based on Isaiah 35. (You can find a performance by googling the title and composer.)
“Ready the way of the Lord, Ready the way of the Lord!”
A voice cries our in the wilderness: “Ready the way of the Lord!”
Here is your God, coming with your vindication. Look and behold the saving power of God.
Watch the video: “The Spirituality of Advent” (5:39), Bishop Robert Barron, 2008. (You can find it by googling the title and presenter or by going to the Word on Fire website, www.wordonfire.org.) A helpful lesson about how to WAIT patiently
In our session at church, we meet in a room with a weak Internet signal. When we tried to watch this video, we saw the first couple minutes, then we saw only a spinning circle as the video tried to load. One of the participants commented that we were being given the real lesson on WAITING!
Readings for the Second Sunday of Advent
Reflect on the readings of the Second Sunday of Advent, taken from Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8. Following each reading, write a verse that speaks to you today. Here are the ones I chose:
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care. (Isaiah 40:11)
Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven. (Psalm 85:11-12)
The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:6)
You may also want to consider the reflections of other spiritual writers. We have chosen Waiting in Joyful Hope 2017-2018: Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas by Mary DeTurris Poust (Liturgical Press, 2017) as our main source of reflections. The one for December 10 is called “What Time Is It?” In addition, you may want to read Exploring the Sunday Readings by Alice Camille, if you have access to that series.
How often do you tackle a chore all the while wishing it was over so you could get onto the next thing? It’s a struggle to live in the present. Today’s readings remind us that we need to make straight our ways today. God doesn’t operate from a day planner, and, when it comes to the big stuff in life, neither should we. Be. Here. Now. (Excerpt from DeTurris Poust for December 10, 2017)
The Jesse Tree
The Jesse Tree helps us connect the custom of decorating Christmas trees to the events leading to Jesus’ birth. The Jesse Tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: A shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. Jesse was the father of King David. We adorn a Jesse Tree with ornaments that represent the people and events leading up to the birth of Jesus. The ornaments of the Jesse Tree tell the story of God in the Old Testament, connecting the Advent season with the faithfulness of God across four thousand years of history.
I would like to recommend a beautiful children’s book about a Jesse Tree:
Countdown to Christmas: 24 Days of the Jesse Tree Tradition by Theresa Seidlitz (Cantor Press, 2013)
Allows your family to take time to know the people in the Bible and to see their connection to Jesus. Recommends reading one story every night in the days before Christmas, and hanging an ornament on a small tree to remember the biblical figures, starting with Adam and Eve and ending with Jesus. Includes a complete set of Jesse Tree ornaments on heavy card stock paper to match individual stories in the book.
Reflections on Light
Find a Scripture verse related to LIGHT. Print it on a piece of cardboard or construction paper in the shape of a bookmark. Reflect on what that verse means to you today. Here are some examples:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shone. (Isaiah 9:2)
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness. I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations. (Isaiah 42:6)
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)
Walking in the Light Practices
Start with the word LIGHT. Write an Advent practice that begins with each letter of the word you have chosen. Here is an example:
L – Look for signs and wonders in my life today.
I – Invite someone in a nursing facility to join in singing Christmas carols.
G – Give a message of hope today.
H – Honor Mary as someone who said “yes” to the seemingly impossible.
T – Take up less emotional space by being more humble.
The Week Ahead
December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
When the image of the Virgin appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego, it was the prophecy of an embrace: Mary’s embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America—the peoples who already lived there, and those who were yet to come. —Pope Francis
(from Robert Elsberg, Give Us This Day)
On the morning of December 9, 1531, a Christian Indian named Juan Diego passed a hill at Tepeyac, not far from present-day Mexico City. Hearing a voice calling him by name, he looked up to see a young Indian maiden. She instructed him to tell the bishop to construct a church on this hill, the site of an ancient shrine to the mother goddess. The bishop paid Juan no attention. In subsequent showings the maiden identified herself as the Mother of God and told Juan to gather roses that grew, unseasonably, at her feet.
When he returned to the bishop and opened his cape, Juan revealed a full-color image of the Lady mysteriously imprinted on the rough fabric. So was born the cult of Our Lady of Guadalupe (as the Indian name of the Lady was rendered in Spanish). But the apparition truly marked the birth of the Mexican people—a fusion of the Spanish and Indian races and cultures. With her dark skin and Indian features, the Lady offered an image of divine compassion for a demoralized people. At the same time, she called the Church to heed the voice of the poor, to serve as a vehicle for their cultural and spiritual survival.
Bake Mexican Crispas to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The recipe can be found at Catholic Cuisine Recipes, www.catholiccuisine.blogspot.com.
Close your reflections with An Advent Prayer by Jane Deren, Education for Justice. https://educationforjustice.org
Christ, we await your coming, and we respond to your invitation to journey to the holy mountain, where there is “no harm or ruin,” and where the lion can lie down with the lamb.
Help us to be like John the Baptist so we may recognize and announce your love to a world in darkness.
Spark our creativity so we may create the way to your peace and justice, working with our sisters and brothers to open new vistas, to promote new ways of being in community and in communion.
May the wings of the Holy Spirit open softly within us, gracing us with inspiration so our waiting itself becomes the place of a new creation. Amen.