1st Sunday of Advent 2005
Don’t you just love a bargain! (Sung) From the pictures of hundreds of people awake at midnight , or in the very early morning, anxiously waiting for the doors to be open to be the first inside a story to get that incredible sale, there are lots of people who just love a bargain!
Awake, Watching, waiting. According to the Gospel today, you could call these bargain hunters, Advent people. Could you imagine if we as a Christian community had that same sense of anticipation, excitement, awake and watchful for the coming of God in our lives.
But wait! If we are really attentive to the scriptures today, we hear that we already have all that we need. We don’t need to wait in line for the doors to open to find something else that we need. No we have it all. This advent season, this new year begins with a reminder from St. Paul that we are “have it all” In a moment, in an instant in our baptism, our sharing in the life of Christ, we are gifted. As Paul says, “I give thanks to my God always on your account for the Grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus…so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift. Brother and sisters, we have it all. We have all we need because the grace of God in Christ Jesus has been bestowed on us.
But do we really believe this? Do we believe that we are already gifted with God’s grace in such a way that we have all we need. Or do we think that there is something missing, something more, something we don’t have. We are promised so much. We are told that God is present and active in our lives. But sometimes we may feel like crying out like the voice of distress in the reading of Isaiah, wondering if God has abandoned us? It seems like God is nowhere in our world when we see so much suffering in the face of those at war, or in exile, or victims of violence of all sorts. If God is always faithful, as Paul says, why is it so difficult to find God? Why does it seem so often that God has hidden his face from us, not only in world situations, but in our everyday lives?
Perhaps it is because we don’t know where to look. We look outside and forget the gift of God’s spirit within. In this Advent season we are invited into a profound experience of God’s awakening in us. We have what it takes. We call it prayer. It is that attentive listening to God’s spirit moving in us. It is not about “prayers” that we say but a way of being in this world that is a prayer. In this advent season, here at St. Ignatius there are so many ways to tap into this experience of prayer. Every Sunday afternoon in advent, from 4:30-5:30 there will be an experience of contemplative prayer. Every Monday evening during Advent there is an invitation to come into the quiet for Taize prayer. On one of those Mondays there is an opportunity to learn more about ways of praying. There are beautiful prayer cards for you at the entrances of the church that can lead you to seek and find the One who is already there for you. The question is will you take the time in this advent season to know how near at hand God is to you? Will you take the time to know how near at heart God is to you?