First Sunday of Advent

– by Bishop Marty Shanahan –

Be constantly on the watch!
What I say to you, I say to all – stay awake!

I am not certain about you, but I have always struggled to understand the Season of Advent. It seemed as if we were supposed to pretend as if the Christ Child had never been born.

Wait, we are told. Wait. Watch.
Stay awake. For what?

We know what happens; is this a mind game? Is this a way to manipulate us?

It happens every year, but why?

The one good thing about Advent, for me growing up, was that at least I knew Christmas was not too far away!

Yet as I have grown older, I have come to a new understanding, and some new learnings.

Maybe Advent is a season of deep and profound reflection on what may be the most profound experience of the human race.

Maybe Advent is a season in which we ask ourselves some very tough questions, some very real questions about the birth of Christ that we celebrate every year at Christmas!

A little over 2000 years ago, as Christians, we believe that God made a conscious and miraculous decision to heal the wound of division that had plagued the human race and the God who created us.

God made a decision to once again, join with us, not as an entity outside of us, but rather, as intimately as possible, and truly become one of – one with – us, in the Incarnation – the child of Mary and Joseph – the Child named Jesus.

So what’s different now? God has done God’s part. God has extended God’s hand to us in the most intimate, most profound way possible; and what have we done? What has been our response?

Your voice at this table continues that conversation, that interaction with God:

What impact has the birth of Christ had or made in your life?

What difference does it make for you, that Jesus, the Anointed One of God, became one with us?

What do you do, or do you plan to do to continue growing in your own self-awareness of the amazing gift of God?

The first Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Hope: My hope is that we might walk this season – praying for a growing awareness of the profound impact that the Incarnation has had on our world and how we might live lives that give birth to and ever growing awareness of our need for God.

– Bishop Marty