Advent 2015: From Darkness to Light

The following comes from our community’s planning for this Advent 2015 season. We share to inspire your own planning and journey through this sacred time of year.

From Pax Christi USA

Theme: Through Darkness to Light

We are People of Hope because we believe in both the Promise of Darkness with its capacity for germination, its deep fecundity; AND we believe in the Promise of Light with its capacity for wisdom, guidance, warmth and its ever increasing understanding.

Can we experience such a life giving cycle when Darkness seems to engulf our world? How are we planting seeds of Hope right now?

The people of Hebrew Scriptures and ourselves and all people, hope for the same things: lasting peace, sufficient food, tranquil lives and an end to suffering. Early peoples were afraid that when the darkness came that was the end. They came to appreciate the cycle of life…the days, the seasons… from experience. Can we experience such a life giving cycle when Darkness seems to engulf our world? How are we planting seeds of Hope right now?

Another question we are asking: How can we take Advent to our neighbors?

Scripture

This liturgical year we use Cycle C in the lectionary. All Sunday gospel readings this year are from Luke. They are in a reverse-chronological order with the Second Coming of Jesus on the first Sunday and the Visitation on the fourth Sunday. The in between weeks are devoted to John the Baptist proclaiming the coming of the kingdom and the way to follow Jesus. John the Baptist points to Jesus, Light of the World, drawing us through the darkness (the shortest days of the year) to the ever-emerging light, all through the readings. We hear this theme repeated through the words of the prophets this year—Jeremiah, Baruch, Zephaniah and Micah. (This year we do not hear from Isaiah on Sundays as in other liturgical years.) The second reading on the Sundays from Paul’s letters encourage disciples to live in the way of following the Light of the World (Jesus.)

Resources

“The Promise of Light: Reflections for Advent and Christmas 2015.”  (Personal devotional resource of Pax Christi USA)  Individuals can reflect on the readings, the stories, and recall their own similar stories and encounters as well as receive an invitation to ask, “How might I be the “promise of light” in God’s world today?”

Advent: God the Father, Pacing the Waiting Room Floor

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

“I am praying to God, the Father, this Advent. I know he’s not on this list of saints we are invoking, but he’s central to our prayers. Who is God, the Father? He’s a new dad, pacing the waiting room floor, waiting for Jesus to be born. And he’s pacing the the floor for all of us in our ongoing birth-processes and new life journeys.”

S. Mary Margaret’s words were deeply moving to me as she spoke them to our circle of Vis Companions and Sisters convened last Saturday for our annual Advent Retreat.

Gathered around an alter of candles at the Girard House in north Minneapolis, contemplating the blessed saints and wise figures of this Advent season and offering prayers, we lit candles one at a time invoking the holy women and men’s names and the gifts they offered to our Advent contemplations.  I heard Dorothy Day‘s name spoken, St. Francis Xavier, St. Nicolas, Etty Hilesum, John of the Cross. And then: God, the Father. The image S. Mary Margaret offered of Our Father as an anxious, expectant father, concerned with Mary and his first born‘s well-being fired my own imagination.  It has stayed with me ever since.

***

A month ago, I turned 45 years old. In the weeks leading up to my birthday, I spent time inhabiting stories of my early life in Nebraska, going so far as to invite my parents to tell me again of the circumstances surrounding my arrival as their first born child.

My mom was enlivened by the assignment, recalling amusing, minute details of the day leading up to my birth. While baking a chocolate cake and gathering ingredients for brown sugar frosting, her water broke — though she wasn’t quite certain what was taking place in her body. She called her doctor, who reportedly said, “Well, call me when you are sure what’s going on.” At the age of 21, my first-time pregnant mother then dialed the neighbor, a nurse, and sought her counsel. In the end, she and my dad took off for Bryan Memorial hospital in Lincoln,  and 8 hours later, I emerged.

My father’s recall process came in spurts and fits, with his self-described exasperated efforts at aiding my mother in the breathing process during her labor, and his subsequent “failure” at keeping her calm. Apparently, my dad had my mother breathing so erratically that she hyperventilated, couldn’t relax, and so he was sent from the labor and delivery room by an attending hospital nurse.

The tale comes vividly today into my mind’s eye, as I imagine Mary and Joseph on the night of Christ’s birth. What did either of them know in the way of child birth? Was lamaze training part of the birthing preparation 2000 years ago? In my meditations, I see these holy humans amidst the air, earth, straw, elements; they are attentive, anxious, intent.

And then creeps back in God, the Father: pacing. He is no different that my human father: waiting, hopeful, trusting, walking to and fro in his father’s room.

Can you see this with me? Imagine Abba, Father, Daddy, for these moments, reduced to the uncertain expectation we all experience in the intense births of our life? How does this imagined scene fire your own identification with the incarnation tale? Can you fathom your own holy wonderings and human divinity as God paces alongside you, or breathes deeply and awaits news of your arrival?

Happy Advent Contemplations!