Advent 2nd Sunday: Year C [12DEC12] Theme for week 2—Preparation & Love
Readings: Psalm 38, 119:25-48 ◊ Isaiah 6:1-13 ◊ 2 Thess. 1:1-12 ◊ John 7:53-8:11
“I lie in the dust; revive me by your word. Help me understand the meaning of your commandments and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds. Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions. I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations. I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding.” -Psalm 119:25-32
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory.”-Isaiah 6:3
“God will use (this) persecution to show his justice and make you worthy of his kingdom, for which you are suffering. Asking our God to enable you, may he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” -2 Thess. 1:4, 11
I continue to ponder the themes of preparation and love today. Meditating on various readings and the words of several prayers in my heart have helped to breathe new life and fan the flames of hope’s fire in my heart. I have been taking stock of the many glorious blessings of God in my life and I am beside myself with awe and wonder at not only what I have been given, but also what He continues to pour out in abundance on me and my house. The richness of God’s love is truly beyond compare or comprehension.
I do not know what the future holds, but I am thankful that God has set my feet on his path, giving me guidelines and structure for my life. He continues to teach me about the mystery of his love and has shown me through my own experience how loving someone sacrificially and fully can return back to you in ways impossible to measure. I have learned about this mysterious love multiplying equation in the context of loving my wife. Never would I have imagined that I could love a person so much and have our love feel so new and so fresh. Twenty-five years feels like a day and a lifetime at once. The more I get to know my soul mate the more I feel as though I am only beginning to know her, but still I feel as though we share the same thoughts and emotions. It is a mystery I find difficult to explain, but I give praise to God for sharing the experience with me. I have no way of knowing, but perhaps this is a tiny peek into what it means to share oneness like Jesus meant to explain to us in his prayer from John 17. Dietrich Bonhoeffer shares thoughts on this mystery of love with the following words:
The mystery of other people is not reduced by getting to know more and more about them. Rather, in their closeness they become more and more mysterious. And the final depth of all mystery is when two people come so close to each other that they love each other. Nowhere in the world does one feel the might of the mysterious and its wonder as strongly as here. When two people know everything about each other, the mystery of the love between them becomes infinitely great. And only in this love do they understand each other, know everything about each other, know each other completely. And yet, the more they love each other and know about each other in love, the more deeply they know he mystery of their love. Thus, knowledge about each other does not remove the mystery, but rather makes it more profound. The very fact that the other person is so near to me is the greatest mystery. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer; God in the Manger
I cannot speak for other couples or experiences, but I know that my relationship has not simply fallen from out of the sky. There was much work and sacrifice for the entirety of our relationship…and there continues to be.
We are agents of the Creative Spirit in this world. Real advance in the spiritual life, then, means accepting this vocation with all it involves. Not merely turning over the pages of an engineering magazine and enjoying the pictures, but putting on overalls and getting on with the job. The real spiritual life must be horizontal as well as vertical; spread more and more. It must be larger, richer, fuller, more generous in its interests than the interests of the natural life alone can ever be; must invade and transform all homely activities and practical things. For it means an offering of life to the Father of life, to Whom it belongs; a willingness—an eager willingness—to take our small place in the vast operations of His Spirit instead of trying to run a poky little business of our own. -Evelyn Underhill
This is preparing. This is waiting well. This is learning to live sacrificially. This type of living is a determined choice. I appreciate the words of the psalmist; “I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations. I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding.” I like that God has not just left us to our own devices, but has given us a model to follow. I don’t think it is a formula, but a way of the heart; when we determine to “lose our life” for the sake of entering God’s Kingdom, a new way of living, complete with new values and systems of reward becomes our world. It may be difficult to explain, but the experience is very real—more people than just me will testify to it.
Waiting. Hope. Preparing. Love. There is a lot of sweat equity and sometimes immense heartache wrapped in those words, but there is an eternal joy that sits on the horizon of hope for every heart that perseveres. Our encouragement is to engage the process—learn to live while we wait—this life is about preparing for our eternity with the God who walks with us, Emmanuel. Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.
It is not simply a matter of waiting and rejoicing in what Advent promises us. It is about learning how to live while we wait. -Joan Chittister; The Liturgical Year
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together. You are the Lord for whom we have waited; we are glad and rejoice in your salvation. You desire truth in my inward being; teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word. I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees. Let me understand the teaching or your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes. O LORD; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.
May the God of peace sanctify us entirely; and may our spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls us is faithful and he will do this. Amen.