Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Advent Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus!

A Word of Explanation:  This blog became inactive with the appointment of a new oblate director three years ago as she chose to use another means of communication.  On being reappointed oblate director, Sister Genevieve Glen, OSB, has chosen to reactivate this blog now, in December 2018.

Come, Lord Jesus! 

When? Are we sitting in the cozy comfort of the present tense, our favorite reading light shining on our Bible, a cup of coffee or tea beside us? Are we reading the comforting texts of the Advent prophets who promised long ago that all broken hearts will be mended, all enmities resolved, all hungers satisfied?  Do we take another satisfying sip of our hot drink, expecting to finish the cup undisturbed?

The trouble with this peaceful picture of a coming long ago or later on is that Christ always comes right now.  In fact, he is always right here.  As he says in Revelation 3:20, “I stand at the door and knock.”  All we have to do is get up and open our heart’s door and let him in.

Unfortunately, that’s not always as simple as it sounds, is it?  There may be a lot of acreage between our prayer nook and the door.  The landscape may include the mountains and valleys the prophet Baruch (Bar 5:1-9) and Luke, quoting Isaiah, point to (Luke 3:1-6).  Ours are often the mountains we’ve made out of molehills: a small slight turned into a major resentment; a minor failure turned into a dismal preoccupation with all that’s wrong with us—because, of course, God won’t really judge us with love and mercy; a little anxiety grown into paralyzing worry—because, of course, we have to take care of the matter ourselves, since God isn’t really around.  The valleys can be the pits of despair we’ve dug for ourselves because we’re too small to live as we’re called to, and we don’t really quite believe all those words we hear about mercy, forgiveness, and grace. And sometimes the landscape is overgrown with thorn bushes, those concerns about possessions and money named in Matthew 13, for example—Christmas is expensive!  Gotta live up to expectations!  And there are those wide expanses of spiritual desert, where God seems to have left the scene and is probably going to leave us to starve to death or die of thirst.  These inner landscapes, and other like them, may seem impassible when we think about getting up and going to open the door to Christ, who is there knocking right this minute. We seem to have given up on the possibility of Benedictine conversatio morum, perhaps because we’ve been tricked into believing that it’s our job alone.

Take heart, the Advent readings tell us.  We can sit right there, stuck in our chairs, and just cry out to Christ to come on in, please.  Then the divine landscaper can take over and flatten those mountains, fill in those valleys, and uproot those thorn bushes.  As happened for those frightened, angry, doubtful Israelites in the desert, the waters of God’s Spirit will well up within our deepest hearts, and Christ will set a nourishing meal before us—and, he says in Revelation 3:20, sit down and share it with us.

Over and over, Advent by Advent, day by day, we can cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus”—and the answer will always be, “I’m here at the door—just let me come in and be with you.”

Copyright 2018 Abbey of St. Walburga