Put Out the Welcome Mat!

Otto Herschel, Wikipedia Commons Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

Otto Herschel, Wikipedia Commons
Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse-Rabbi Reading the Torah

 

“I am coming to dwell among you.”
Zechariah 2, 14

Last week we had guests for dinner–good friends we hadn’t seen in a while thanks to those daily life events that sometimes get in the way of what we would like.

The morning of their visit, I took on the tasks of spiffing up the house while David got to work on the special meal he had planned a few days ahead of time. He’d spent an afternoon shopping at a few stores to assure he had just the right ingredients and found recipes even though his culinary genius would kick in and improve upon them. I kept busy, too, most of the day, filling in as sous-chef in between my domestic duties. We wanted everything to be just perfect, especially since our friend, Patty, is also a gourmet cook.

“So what?” you may be thinking. It’s no less than what most folks would do.

That evening, after our friends had left and most of the dishes had been done, we went, as is our practice during Advent, to light the candles on our Advent wreath and to read a short meditation from a little publication, “The Word Among Us,” that is based on the scripture for the following day’s liturgy. And, as you no doubt have guessed by now, that wonderful promise from the prophet Zechariah was the verse the editors chose for us to reflect upon.

The parallel is obvious, isn’t it? If David and I could do so much to welcome these dear friends, to prepare with care for their visit, shouldn’t we do more to welcome Jesus into our lives? One big difference stands out to me. Yes, we are celebrating the coming of God’s Son into our world when we prepare for Christmas but HE’S ALREADY HERE. And He didn’t come just for an evening of good food, some wine and conversations. He has come to STAY. And He has come to offer us the feast of Himself.

So, I have to ask myself, what do I do on a daily basis to welcome Him, to be aware of His dwelling in me? Is my Advent preparation confined to shopping for presents and wrapping them, sending out Christmas cards, and baking goodies? What else can I do? Perhaps, it’s in taking some time each morning to pray that we will find the answer to those questions.

In case you are wondering, our evening was perfect, fun. The dinner was scrumptious and conversation flowed. But it was over so quickly, just like our celebration each year of Christmas.

Blessed Advent!

Photo: Wikipedia Commons--Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

Photo: Wikipedia Commons–Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

 

 

Prayer Pilgrims

Rejoice always;

pray without ceasing;

in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.…

I Thessalonians, 5, 15

 

Photo: davefrohnmayer.com Oregon Coast

Photo: davefrohnmayer.com
Oregon Coast

Many, many years ago, I was enticed by the story of a Russian mystic who wandered by foot through his country on a quest for contact with God. It was said that, without ceasing,  he repeated the “Jesus Prayer”–Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

That reminds me of the admonitions Jesus and Paul give us to pray constantly.

Last week I received an e-mail telling me of a new follower who blogs under the moniker “Prayer Pilgrim.” I linked to his blog and Facebook page to learn that, as of yesterday, this young man is beginning a walking pilgrimage along the coast of Oregon. I felt a twinge of envy, wishing I could do something like this–but considering age and health issues, as well as my responsibilities to others, I understood that that dream is out of the question. I am following his blog posts in order to join in, in some vicarious sort of way.

The reality is, however, there is nothing stopping me from becoming a prayer pilgrim in my own way–striving to bring prayer into the simplicity of my daily routine–walking the dogs, doing dishes, laundry, errands–whatever. The challenges I face are not the biting cold of the sea spray, nor the rocky cliffs, nor the aloneness of traveling without companions. No. My challenge is to REMEMBER. To not allow mindless internal chatter or the variability of mood swings distract me so that by the time I reach the end of the day I have blocked out all awareness of God With/In me.

Like Prayer Pilgrim, we each try to begin our walk throughout the day in a prayer place. The question is, how to keep putting one foot in front of the other, progressing in The Practice of the Presence of God.

Is there anything that helps you to REMEMBER?

Bless you on your journey, Prayer Pilgrim.

God With/In

Image: Micha Eldridge

Image: Micha Eldridge

In Advent, one of the names of God that comes to mind is Emmanuel–God with us. As I consider the many promises of Jesus as God-With-Us comes to mind. He came to complete us, reminding us that the Kingdom is Within.

Often, it helps me to visualize Jesus sitting beside me–when I pray, this morning at Mass, even riding shotgun when I drove to the mall to grab a couple of stocking-stuffers earlier today. But how much more powerful is the realization that He dwells within. As St. Paul asks in I Corinthians 6:9

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?

Yikes. That’s a lot to take in!

  • What do you do to remember your indwelling Guest?
  • How does remembering that affect behavior?
  • Which resonates most for you: with, within or with/in?

I have a creative mind that loves to jump all the place (I think they would diagnose me with ADD these days–it was not recognized when I was a child.) I would be so grateful if a you would offer me a quick and easy “cure” for my flightiness–something to help me home in on God With/In all day long.

May you live a beautiful continuance of Advent.

Photo: V. Slotto

Photo: V. Slotto

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner!

Here I stand, knocking at the door.
If anyone hears me calling and opens the door,
I will enter his house and have supper with him,
and he with me.

Revelation 3: 20 (NAB)

Photo: icraftblog.blogspot.com

Photo: icraftblog.blogspot.com

Advent is here–a time of waiting, of anticipation for the coming of God-with-us, Emmanuel. I have always relished this season of the liturgical cycle and embrace it as characterizing my own personal spirituality–that sense of emptiness waiting for completion.

Right now, I’m muddling my way through the book of Revelation, the apocalyptic book that is the least read and least understood book of the New Testament. This morning I read Chapter Three and the thought occurred to me–what use is study if it’s purpose is anything but to bring us into communion with Christ.

And what better verse to savor, to sit back and absorb, than the one above–one of the few from this book that has held meaning for me in the past. For me, today, on this Sabbath, this is an invitation to remember the presence of God in whatever I do. God was with/in me as ate breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, checked e-mail, cared for the dogs. Here he is, now, as I write this post. (Actually his Spirit is the inspiration behind it.)

In my prayer, I’ve never been good at the type of meditation recommended by St. Ignatius Loyola where he has you plop yourself down in the middle of a gospel scene and allow your senses to experience everything going on in it. Just not my style, though many find it helpful. But today, it is making a lot of sense to me to visualize him here with me, leaning over my shoulder as I write. Hmmm! I wonder if he would enjoy watching a little football later today.

Isn’t Advent about just this? The coming of God in our midst–Jesus’ willingness to take on humanity and experience that which we experience–physically, emotionally, and intellectually?

I wish you a blessed Advent. Let’s invite Emmanuel in to share everything. Everything.

Photo: Victoria Slotto Our Advent Wreath 2014

Photo: Victoria Slotto
Our Advent Wreath, 2014