Richard Rohr – First Sunday of Advent – Darkness

Advent [meaning “coming”], to the Church Fathers, was the right naming of the season when light and life are fading. They urged the faithful to set aside four weeks to fast, give, and pray—all ways to strip down, to let the bared soul recall what it knows beneath its fear of the dark, to know what Jesus called “the one thing necessary”: that there is One who is the source of all life, One who comes to be with us and in us, even, especially, in darkness and death. One who brings a new beginning. —Gayle Boss [1]

I hope it isn’t difficult to understand why I’m beginning the Advent season reflecting on darkness. [2] I’m not trying to be a spoilsport, but once Thanksgiving is over, we in the United States are rushed headlong into the Christmas season. Yet Advent was once (and still can be) a time of waiting, a time of hoping without knowing, a time of emptying so that we can be filled by the divine Presence. Though you may be wrapping gifts, planning special meals, and spending time with family and friends, I hope you will also take time to allow the Advent darkness to do its work as well. 

Not knowing or uncertainty is a kind of darkness that many people find unbearable. Those who demand certitude out of life will insist on it even if it doesn’t fit the facts. Logic and truth have nothing to do with it. If you require certitude, you will surround yourself with your own conclusions and dismiss or ignore any evidence to the contrary.

The very meaning of faith stands in stark contrast to this mindset. We have to live in exquisite, terrible humility before reality. In this space, God gives us a spirit of questing, a desire for understanding. In some ways it is like learning to “see in the dark.” We can’t be certain of what’s in front of us, but with some time and patience, our eyes adjust, and we can make the next right move.

The Gospel doesn’t promise us complete clarity. If God wanted us to have irrefutable proof, the incarnation of Jesus would have been delayed until technology and science could confirm it.Scriptures do not offer rational certitude. They offer us something much better, an entirely different way of knowing: an intimate relationship, a dark journey, a path where we must discover for ourselves that grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness are absolutely necessary for survival in an uncertain world. You only need enough clarity to know how to live without certitude! Yes, we really are saved by faith. People who live in this way never stop growing, are not easily defeated, are wise and compassionate, and frankly, are fun to live with. They have a quiet and confident joy. Infantile religion insists on certainty every step of the way and thus is not very happy.

[1] Gayle Boss, All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings, illus. by David G. Klein (Paraclete Press: 2016), xi-xii.

[2] For those readers unfamiliar with the Christian liturgical calendar, Advent is the period of four Sundays before Christmas. It is intended to be a time of preparation, through prayer and reflection, on the coming of Christ at the Nativity (Christmas), in worship and community today, and at the end times.

Adapted from Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 100-101; and

Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2009), 120.

3rd Sunday of Advent – Joy


ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now ever. Amen.

(source, here)

2nd Sunday of Advent

O holy, patient, and loving God, in this season of grace-filled longing, we await the coming of your Son and our Savior. It is difficult for us to remember that this is a holy time. There are many distractions: commitments seem to pile up, and expectations are high. In the midst of our busy world, our busy lives, we need your help to remind us of what is important and necessary. While many of those things that we do not need will come to us in packages gleaming and bright, the one gift that will last comes from you alone, gracious God, as we grow in our awareness of your love. Bless us, our family and friends, and the food and the company that we share. Increase in us a growing urgency to celebrate the birth of your Son, in whose name we pray. Amen.

(Source, here)

1st Sunday of Advent

advent-one-candle
Copyright: hraska / 123RF Stock Photo

A Prayer for the 1st Sunday of Advent

Good and gracious God,

It is never easy to wait…
that may be
why Advent
is so hard for us.

But Loving God,
it is not so hard for you.

You wait for us
to turn from our old ways
toward the life you desire for us.

You wait for us
to admit what we have done,
and what we have failed to do,
so we might be freed
toward the life you know
we can have here on Earth.

But our fears and our failures
get in the way.

We lose sight of hope
and find ourselves
stuck in what we see
as impossibilities.

We lose sight of joy
and wallow in
what is wrong.

We lose sight of love
and focus on the things
that frustrate and anger us.

We lose sight of peace
and bind ourselves up
in the things that divide us.

This Advent season
give us pause to rest,
to wait,
to be still
and know that you are God.

Lend us perspective
this Advent
and call us back to be the people
you created us to be.

As we wait
for Hope Come Down
may we learn to practice hopefulness
and may that hopefulness
teach us to fear less
and love more.

May it strengthen us
and encourage us
as we ourselves
strive to be a people of hope
in a far too fearful world.

Amen.

(Source, HERE)

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2017 – Light the Candle of Love

AdventWreath

Today we relight the first three candles of the Advent Wreath — the candles of HOPE, PEACE and JOY.

Now we light the fourth candle of Advent. This is the candle of LOVE.

Jesus demonstrated self-giving love in his ministry as the Good Shepherd. Advent is a time for kindness, thinking of others, and sharing with others. It is a time to love as God loved us by giving us his most precious gift. As God is love, let us be love also.

In the Book of Deuteronomy we find these words:

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
— Deuteronomy 10:17-19a
From the Gospel of John we hear:
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
— John 13:34-35
Let us pray:
Teach us to love, O Lord. May we always remember to put you first as we follow Christ’s footsteps, that we may know your love and show it in our lives. As we prepare for our celebration of Jesus’ birth, also fill our hearts with love for the world, that all may know your love and the one whom you have sent, your son, our Savior. Amen.

(Source, HERE)

Third Sunday of Advent 2017 – Light the Candle of Joy

Third Advent Candle

Today we relight the first two candles of the Advent wreath. The candle of HOPE and the candle of PEACE.

Now we light the third candle of Advent.

This is the candle of JOY. As the coming of Jesus, our Savior, draws nearer, our joy builds with our anticipation of his birth.

From the Book of Isaiah we read the words of our Lord:

“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.”
— Isaiah 65:18

From the New Testament, the words of Paul to the people of the church at Galatia:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”
— Galatians 5:22-25

Let us pray:
We joyfully praise you, O Lord, for the fulfillment of your promise of a Savior and what that means in our lives. Thank you for the gift of salvation through the birth of your son, Jesus. Create us anew as we wait, and help us to see your glory as you fill our lives with your living Spirit. Amen.

(Source, HERE).

Second Sunday of Advent 2017 – Light of the Wold

second Advent candle

Today we relight the candle of HOPE.
Now we light the candle for the second Sunday in Advent. This is the candle of PEACE.

As we prepare for the coming of Jesus, we remember that Jesus is our hope and our peace.

* * *

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

The Christmas season is full of light – sparkling lights on the Christmas tree; houses in the neighborhood decorated with lights for the coming holiday; candles flickering on the mantle; a fire in the fireplace representing warmth, comfort, and hope. These are the images of light we will hold onto this Advent season.

And we hold these images as hope not only for our own lives; but for the lives of those suffering in Palestine, Israel, the Middle East, and around the world. We remember in our prayers this week:

  • The men, women, and children who are living in Gaza; often with only a few hours of electricity per day.
  • The 60,000 internally displaced persons in Gaza still waiting for a durable housing solution since the destruction of their homes during the 2014 Gaza War.
  • The families affected by the 155 demolitions or confiscations of Palestinian owned structures in East Jerusalem and the West Bank during September and October 2016.
  • Those affected by the terrible fires throughout Israel and the West Bank that destroyed hundreds of homes, displacing tens of thousands.

We close with a prayer from The Reverend Said Ailabouni, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, Illinois:

God of mercy and compassion,
of grace and reconciliation,
pour your power upon all your children in the Middle East:
Jews, Muslims and Christians,
Palestinians and Israelis.
Let hatred be turned into love, fear to trust, despair to hope,
oppression to freedom, occupation to liberation,
that violent encounters may be replaced by loving embraces,
and peace and justice could be experienced by all.

(Source, Churches for Middle East Peace.)