1st Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 63:16-17, 19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:33-37

Most of us shudder remembering the "all-nighters" we pulled in college - cramming all night for that eight-thirty exam, finishing that paper due to a professor by ten o'clock in the morning. Before we realize it, the fourteen weeks of the semester were over - and a mountain of papers had to be completed and exams passed. So, compelled by the fear of flunking out and fortified by caffeine, we read and memorized and typed and highlighted until dawn.

Did you ever find yourself driving all night for an important meeting? Last minute complications or a cnaceled flight meant driving until dawn to be there on time.

Or you've had to be up early for an appointment or meeting. You're so afraid of oversleeping or so keyed up over your presentation or the meeting's outcome that you wake up every twenty minutes. You eventually accept the reality that you will not be getting much sleep this night until the meeting is over and done.

And many of us know the anxiety of keeping vigil all night at the bedside of someone we love: the couple awaiting the birth of their child, the spouse pacing anxiously in the hospital waiting room, family members offering what comfort they can as a loved one slips into eternity. After a long night, life is transformed as morning dawns. These "short nights" we have all kept are all experiences of Advent, the first season of the liturgical year that focuses on the last days. Our lives are a constant Advent: The precious and limited time we live is but a "short night" in which we have much to do and complete before the morning of eternity dawns. Advent calls us to stay awake and not sleep through the opportunities life gives us to discover God and the things of God. Advents calls us to "watch," to pay attention to the signs of God's unmistakable presence in our lives, to live every day of our lives as a gift from God.

Meditation: In what ways have you been most recently reminded how brief and precious life is?

Prayer: Come, Lord, into the Advent of our lives. Come, open our eyes that we may see your hand in all things. Come, fill our hearts with a spirit of humble gratitude that we may realize the gift of our days. Come, illuminate the paths we walk with the light of your wisdome as we journey to your dwelling place.

from "Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2011-12" by Jay V. Cormier