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The earth was void and empty, darkness was upon the face of the deep and the Spirit of God moved across the waters. And then He spoke. He said, “Let there be light”. And all was very good. But the ones who first lived in that light allowed themselves to be deceived. Mankind, created in God’s image became fallen. Pride, chaos, violence and darkness filled the earth. Yet, God so loved His people, that He would not leave them without forgiveness or hope. Salvation is promised to those who believe. Throughout the ages, this Mystery of Salvation, the promise of redemption was gradually revealed in the covenants he offered to Noah, Abraham, Moses… to David; and the revelation of the mystery continues into this present age; an age which is still chaotic and dark. The world is flooded with sin and error; a darkness hovers over society. In this darkness we often times experience emptiness, our lives are sometimes void of meaning. We allow ourselves to be influenced by pride and do violence to our souls. We unknowingly remove ourselves from the promise of this great salvation. We fail to see that God, our Creator, formed us in His image and as such, desires that we be united with Him as a holy people, filled with His everlasting light. God has spoken through the prophets about this awesome light. They tell of the coming of a great Messiah. And it is in anticipation and expectation of this Saviour that the people of God throughout history lived their lives. They believed in His promise. It is said that all of the Old Testament is “a prolonged Advent the prayers of which are summed up in this prayer of Isaiah: Send forth, O Lord, the Lamb and Ruler of the earth.” It is in this same spirit that we should place ourselves as we once again celebrate the beginning of a new liturgical year for the Church, the season of Advent. So too must we look at this four week period as a beginning of sorts for us. Call to mind the ancient promise as you place yourselves in a state of hopeful anticipation and expectation of what is to come. Let this Advent be the start of a new way of looking at things, a time for introspection and reflection, a time for waiting, for watching… a time to be on the lookout for something beyond all of us. What are the things that hold us back from experiencing the hope and expectation of something greater than we can ever imagine? What is it we hope for? What do we desire? Will the fulfillment of these things bring peace, joy, love? Are we consumed by the secular world and all its passing trends? Do you not hunger for what is true and lasting? What kind of choices do we make? Do we choose to find satisfaction in the things money can buy? Do we choose to stand up for what is right? Do we choose to speak up or be silent? Do these choices bring us closer to or further away from the promise of Salvation? Do we spend so much time taking care of our outward appearances that we neglect to give the same care to our interior lives? Do you even know you have an interior world?
Are we so busy talking about what other people are doing that we drown out the voice of God and fail to hear what He is trying to do in our souls? Do you not know that our words can sometimes cause damage and leave us broken and that His Word is all healing and forgiving? Do we go out about paying close attention to the things that are built up in this world for brief enjoyment and forget that more attention should be given to the things that build up the Kingdom of God which has in it life giving Light and eternal delight? Do you really believe in the everlasting promise? Advent should become a time to prepare ourselves for this promise of salvation… a time of quiet anticipation, and careful preparation. A time to undo the violence inflicted upon each soul, a time to believe that we will be made whole. It is the time to let God, the Creator give us our sight, a time to step out of the darkness and journey into the light. Antiphon 1: O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: Come, and teach us the way of prudence. Hope We become caught up in promises of a better way of life in modern conveniences; and place our hopes in fantastic claims. And when these claims don’t hold up to our expectations, disappointment can be severe. We learn, sometimes bitterly, that there is an insecure hope in the things of this world. In this bitter disappointment, may we come to know that “when there is no human source of hope” we can always talk to God; but we must listen too. God speaks and marvelous works are produced. Wisdom from the mouth of the Most High will teach us good judgment and common sense if only we allow His voice to fill our hearts and direct us onto the path of righteousness. What He promises is to fill us with a Hope that is enduring and sustaining. Antiphon 2: O Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come, and redeem us with outstretched arms. Peace – “When God, in the beginning, created man He made him subject to his own free choice. If you choose you can keep the commandments.” It was this free choice that led to the first fall… and it is still this same freedom of choice, which has always been respected by the Creator that causes us to stumble and fall repeatedly. The freedom of choice which the world says is our very basic right has brought about a false sense of peace. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who change darkness into light and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter!”
It is also this freedom to choose which enables us to experience a deep inner peace which no worldly source can ever give. He holds out to us the promise of everlasting peace if only we are willing to be obedient to His commands. He invites us to take His outstretched hand, He will lift us up when we fall; all envy and strife shall cease, the Lord’s plans are simply peace. Antiphon 3: O King of the Gentiles and the Desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one. Come, and save man whom you fashioned out of clay. Joy - We desire to be united as a people the world over, real unity can only happen if each one of us is united to Him who fashioned us out of clay, united to Him who is the cornerstone. Then only can we become “living stones” united with one another, living stones that will be used to build up the Kingdom. We must recognize that we are truly created in His image and are called to reflect all that is good in Him. Yet, how often times do we distort that image when we choose to be filled up with the things of this world? We think we are defined by the possessions we acquire and by the means we go about to obtain those possessions. The pursuit of these things fills us with a misguided expectation of happiness and joy. The riches of the world can only bring about a temporary joy whereas the riches of God’s Kingdom promise a wealth of joy for eternity. Antiphon 4: O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the nations and their Savior. Come and save us, O Lord our God. Love – Do we realize that we go about seeking love in all the wrong places? We expect that a certain someone will be our “soul mate” and will fulfill all our longings. And all too often, relationship after relationship, we are abandoned by the one to whom we give our lives to. It all ends up as nothing but a fleeting love filled with broken promises. We move on, restlessly searching… for more of the same. “For you have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until we find rest in you.” St. Augustine’s heart found rest in his Creator. He discovered that falling in love with God was the greatest of all romances. God is Love and out of this great love did he first form us to live in the harmony of his hope, his peace, his joy and his love… and it is because of this love that He will never abandon His creation. And so to us, God Himself gives a sign of this everlasting love and care, a sign of His romance with the created, the sign of His breaking through into the world of His creation, “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel.” God without us will keep us in the dark deep, but God with us will bring us out of those depths and raise us into His Light. His created shall become re-created. This is the goal of our lives, the love that we long for. This is the promise of a lasting love.
_______________________ Concluding---“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” God speaks! And marvelous things are produced. Throughout scripture, the Creator speaks through the prophets, revealing the Mystery of Salvation, preparing humanity to enter into the Kingdom of Light. We see in this history that “the People of God has always found strength in the word of God, and today too the ecclesial community”, which is all of us, “grows by hearing”. The Son of God, who is the Word and who, by the pronouncement of God became the Son of the Virgin, speaks to our hearts, calling each of us His own. Listen to that voice; let His Word fill your heart. You will be filled with a glimmer of hope, a flicker of peace and a spark of joy that will fuel the flame of a great burning love which will illuminate our way to never-ending Light. These “lamps of fire” enkindled within will become “the living waters of the spirit”; we will be transformed into a light-filled, holy people eager and willing to do our part in the building up of the City of God. And we will sing the song in Isaiah’s heart, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Creator God, of light, of love; send us a Ruler from your kingdom above, who will show us the way to everlasting day. Jesus Christ the King of whom the prophets sing, our Mighty Saviour, everlasting peace you bring. My Lord, My God! Who fills me with pure love; take me beyond to the heavens above. You lift me up, you make me whole. You fill my life and transform my soul. You show to me that there will always be “a river that brings joy to the City of God”… You, who is Love, are in that kingdom “and it shall never be destroyed”. _____________________________________________________ Advent 2010 christine elizabeth "My beloved put his hand through the opening; my heart trembled within me, and I grew faint when he spoke." Song of Songs 5:4
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