Category Archives: Advent

What Are We Waiting For This Advent Season?

HOLY

WAITING

This post is part of the series:

What Are We Waiting For This Advent Season?

at Christine Sine’s blog “Godspace

Holy Waiting

by Liz Dyer

Waiting

Watching

Together

For the dawn

Of light full blown

To grow inside us

A rebirth of love

Beginning again and again

Life anew

With a promise in our heart

Of coming celebration

What am I waiting for this Advent season?  The same things I wait for all year – love, kindness, mercy, compassion, justice, and the joy and celebration that those things bring.

Sometimes I wait for it in myself as I struggle to forgive someone who has wronged me or those I love…or when my caring seems to be turned back on myself and I am miserable because I am looking in the wrong direction…or when my humility slips away and I become a know-it-all defending my beliefs with prideful certainty.

Sometimes I wait for it in others as I watch innocent people suffer because of power and greed – as I hear hateful words spewed with careless abandon – as lives are lost due to war, disease, hunger, prejudice, disaster – as the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the outcasts are rejected or, worse, ignored.

Sometimes I wait for it in the church as I see exclusion, hate, division, and apathy going unnoticed while some less significant issue seems to be at the forefront – as I see numbers and programs and rules matter more than individual people – as I see the church turning in on itself, protecting itself, nurturing itself.

Sometimes I wait for it in God – when my prayers seem to go unheard and unanswered – when I am overwhelmed with all the injustice and suffering going on in the world – when it seems like the promise might not be kept after all.

Sometimes, I want to give up, to quit hoping, to quit believing, to quit waiting – but then I get some glimpse of the love that is being reborn, I see a flicker of the light that will some day be full blown …

In the man who leaves his successful, highly paid, glamorous job to start a charity for people who need clean drinking water.

In the church that goes to a nearby neighborhood and does extreme home makeovers for those in need.

In the small group of Christ followers who help those in need get their clothes washed and dried and call it Laundry Love.

In the football team who cheers  for the other side.

 

In the mom (me) who learns lessons of love and grace from her gay son.

In the God who became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.

Yes, I wait all year but the Advent season is a special time of waiting.  It is a time to practice and train – a time to learn how to wait hopefully and joyfully – a time to be reminded of and reflect on the glimpses and the flickers of the past and the present – it is a time of Holy Waiting.

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Our God Is A Consuming Fire

Photo found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ottoman42/455242/

fire

With Advent, the December synchroblog, Christmas decorations and the approach of the Winter Solstice I have been thinking a lot about light lately. Between thinking about light and using Amy Carmichael’s poem “Make Me Thy Fuel” as an Advent Prayer I began to think about fire and that reminded me of Hebrews 12:29 which says “Our God is a consuming fire.” Through all of this thinking and pondering and praying I stumbled across a great article written by Frederica Mathewes-Green that was published on belief.net back in 2006 called Transfiguration. It was so good I wanted to share it with you. 

You really have to read the whole article  but here are a few excerpts:

“But there is something about light that most previous generations would have known, that doesn’t occur to us today. We think of light as something you get with the flip of a switch. But before a hundred years ago, light always meant fire. Whether it was the flame of a candle, an oil lamp, a campfire, or the blazing noonday sun, light was always accompanied by fire. And fire, everyone knew, must be respected. That’s one of the lessons learned from earliest childhood. Fire is powerful and dangerous. It does not compromise. In any confrontation, it is the person who will be changed by fire, and not the other way round. As Hebrews 12:29 says, “Our God is a consuming fire.” Yet this consuming fire was something God’s people yearned for. In some mysterious way, light means life. John tells us, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Jesus says, “I am the Life” (John 11:25), and also “I am the Light” (John 8:12). Light is life: we live in light, and couldn’t live without it. In some sense, we live on light. It is light-energy that plants consume in photosynthesis–an everyday miracle as mysterious as life itself. When we eat plants, or eat the animals that eat plants, we feed secondhand on light. Light is converted into life, literally, with every bite we eat.”


“Through prayer, fasting, and honoring others above self, we gradually clear away everything in us that will not catch fire. We are made to catch fire. We are like lumps of coal, dusty and inert, and possess little to be proud of. But we have one talent: we can burn. You could say that it is our destiny to burn. He made us that way, because he intended for his blazing light to fill us. When this happens, “your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22).”

“On the far side of everything–the Last Supper, the campfire denial, the Resurrection, and the Pentecost outpouring–Peter tries in a letter to make sense of what happened on Mt. Tabor that day. Peter saw God’s glory, and he knows it is for us. He says that God’s divine power calls us “to his own glory.” Through his promises we may “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4). “Partakers of the divine nature.” The life that is in Christ will be in us. In Western Christianity, we tend to take Scriptures like this metaphorically. When St. Paul refers to life “in Christ” some 140 times, we expect he means a life that looks like Christ’s. We try to imitate our Lord, and sing of following him and seeking his will. We ask “What would Jesus do?” We hope to behave ethically and fairly in this life, and after death take up citizenship in heaven. But it appears that Peter had learned to anticipate something more radical and more intimate: true oneness with Christ and personal transfiguration. We partake of, consume, the light and the life of Christ. We receive, not mere intellectual knowledge of God, but illumination.”

An Advent Prayer

Advent is about waiting and preparing.

In recent years I have come to realize that this is not a time of mushy, sentimental waiting for the baby Jesus – but a time of waiting when one gathers strength and courage to encounter the adult Christ who calls us to lose ourselves in him and his mission.

In that spirit, I offer up Amy Carmichael’s poem “Make Me Thy Fuel” as a prayer during Advent.

Make Me Thy Fuel

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.

From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified,
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.

Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay
The hope no disappointments tire
The passion that will burn like fire,
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
~Amy Carmichael*, 1867-1951