This Advent we used (under license) a series of video meditations from The Work of the People. The first is called “I Am Present”, and can be viewed if you follow this link:
The Video Meditation we watched draws on beautiful images to express the soulful longings of the season of Advent, this time of on the way, but not quite there yet. A time of waiting for something, someone new to be born.
During Advent we might imagine Joseph and Mary setting out on their journey, and the whole mix of emotions they might have.
Excitement about the impending birth.
Anxiety about their circumstances.
Love for each other, and the new life they were nurturing.
An underlying trust that somehow, it was all going to be all right.
The conviction that Mary’s conversation with a holy messenger about the child she carried was not a delusion, that God really did send an angel to offer her hope.
The confidence that Joseph’s dream of another messenger carried truth, and that he and Mary, and this unborn child were all important and necessary to God’s hopes and dreams for the world.
Perhaps we all want to know that we are embraced by God’s love, and that we are part of God’s story.
I came across a wonderful quote from the author Frederick Buechner that speaks to the part of us that wants to matter, but may hesitate, because life can seem so difficult, and we are afraid to take it on, by ourselves. Buechner writes that grace is the assurance that we do not have to take it on by ourselves, because God is always with us. He said,
“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.”
The video uses the image of the womb of Eden to talk about a time of innocence when people felt close to God. Before things got complicated with all of our strategies of ego and pride and greed and willfulness. Before we cared about anything except being held, and loved, safe in God’s warm embrace.
But in the Eden story, Adam and Eve grow up, and out of that simplicity, and their lives become more like ours. They knew the tensions between simple love and kindness, and other ambitions, to know, to do, to be in charge. All the confusions that get between our best selves, and God, who is the source of all love.
Advent is a time of longing for a new way, which is also an old way of living- closer to God.
Advent is hopeful, but also frightful. We hope for that new life, and we also hesitate. If the new life comes, will it make a shambles of our old lives? We hope so. We hope not. We don’t exactly what we hope for. But we have hope, nonetheless.
Let’s watch the video again, with hopeful hearts.