Michele McGrath, presiding bishopric
Come, we will go up to Yahweh’s mountain, to the Temple of the God of Jacob, so that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in his paths. -Micah 4:2 NJB
On a summer day, contemplating the difficult days and weeks ahead and the weighty press of my to-do list, I walked the labyrinth at the Temple in Independence, Missouri. I joined its holy rhythm: Release, Receive, Return.
As I slowed my gait and became aware of feel of sun and breeze and the sound of nearby insects in concert, it occurred to me that we might experience this same rhythm in the season of Advent.
What is it that you-that we-are called to release this Advent season? Like some of Jesus’ followers, I would often like Jesus to “fix” the world and everyone in it rather than realizing that, far more than attractive and successful “accomplishers,” we are called to be humble and faithful participants in what is unfolding. I need to release my wish for a small, petty Jesus in order to make room for the magnificent creation he gently whispers into being in and through us.
What is that you-that we-are called to receive this Advent season? Deeper compassion for poor families, like Jesus’ family, who seek a safe place to shelter, to give birth, and simply be? God’s abiding presence in the midst of times of waiting or suffering? Renewed hope in the eternal cycle of birth, death, and resurrection all around us…if we have eyes to see? Rediscovered joy in the simplicity of the first mouthful of your favorite holiday food? The smell of home or church at Christmastime? The first sight of a loved one’s face after a long time apart?
To what are you-we-called to return this Advent season? Perhaps, like my time on the labyrinth on a summer morn, time spent in spiritual practice and waiting is never really wasted time. Spiritual practice time allows us to return to the world around us with new eyes and fresh hopes for seeing the creation of God newly birthed in our midst.
Advent Prayer Phrase
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).
Advent Spiritual Practice
Breathe deeply and spend a few moments inviting silence to deepen around you. Pay attention to what is forming in you this day as you prayerfully consider the following questions: What awareness or gift begins to emerge in you through the practice of waiting? When do you notice being invited to resist rushing to the next thing and remain present with what may be slowly unfolding? What can you learn from being fully present in the waiting times?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.