This week we encounter the Advent mantra, ‘Prepare the Way of the Lord,’ in Luke’s gospel. What does it mean to prepare the way for God’s fuller movement into and through our lives?
Frequently I feel that I am wading in words, ideas, and emotions when I really long to be swimming in the Mystery. Yet I am discovering, through a messy process of trial and error, that there exist secret doors which open and deposit me in God’s presence. Maybe you have some of these intimate practices?
A few years ago I participated in an Advent Wreath workshop at our church in Boston. Well, actually I didn’t even have time to participate in the workshop before church (sound familiar?), but thankfully someone put a little kit in my hand as I walked out of the worship space. It contained the makings for a very simple wreath of beads strung on cord surrounding a tile base and five candles.
During hard years of graduate school and all the transitions of last Advent, including the death of a dear mentor, I lit candles and held these beads in the growing winter darkness. Sometimes it was all I could do.
I am starting to suspect that preparing the way for God may be more about these simple practices and less about getting all of our thoughts and feelings in order. (Or maybe the process of centering in God organizes our thoughts and feeling naturally.) There is actually a robust conversation right now in the Church about the need to enlarge our paradigm from orthodoxy — right thinking, right believing — to orthopraxis –right living, right practices. Shane Claiborne talks about it in The Irresistible Revolution-a great read.
I hope the advent mantra, prepare a way, continues to work on you and through you this week. Consider it an invitation to create a small, beautiful action which reminds you of God’s presence during this season, like this photo of a home-crafted advent wreath I share here.
Peace to you this winter day,
Community Dinner Tonight at Casa Semrad. 108 S. Rosemont Dallas TX 75208. Join us for coconut-milk lentil soup and conversation. We may get crafty and make some advent wreaths out of recycled materials. Join us!
I also love the idea of joining the angelic chorus and reveling in the light of the newborn King. I love the light out of darkness metaphor (sonlight) and look forward to talking more about this.
Another one of the lectionary texts for the second Sunday in Advent this year is Baruch 5:7 “For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.”
At lunch this week, Courtney and I discussed how gears on a bicycle make hills low and fill up valleys by allowing me to pedal at the same speed regardless of whether I’m climbing or coasting. Three speeds (uphill, downhill, and flat) are usually all I need to get around town. Some neighbors and I have started biking together to work because there’s no easy way for a single rider to cycle across I-30 to downtown on weekdays. You can either ride straight into traffic on Houston or if you go with the flow, it’s steep. Our group had just three people this Thursday, which was both bracingly cold and beautifully sunny. My two fellow travelers were kind enough to slow down to my speed as we pedaled over the Jefferson Viaduct, which (for me) is as tough as any hill in Dallas — especially during rush hour. The incline is a bit of a battle because the bridge was heightened to allow boats to pass beneath it (before engineers realized the waters below weren’t navigable for commercial shipping). With one cyclist riding between me and fast-moving cars, and another behind me in a highlighter-yellow reflective safety vest, I felt comfortable traveling at my own pace, and — thanks to those accompanying me — made it safely over the Trinity River.