A mixed bag of readings this first Sunday of Advent. A first reading of fulfillment and of good news. Then we have a psalm of faith. A second reading that sounds like a blessing. Finally a Gospel that is downright scary. Really, kind of a rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts.
Pretty much captures a typical day. It captures a life in which we live with God.
So, why then would anyone want to follow, believe, in this God, who can take us on an emotional, intellectual and spiritual rollercoaster?
Here’s the thing.
The rollercoaster of life is going to happen no matter what. If we think that because we believe in God, that we follow Jesus Christ that we follow all the rules and regulations we are guaranteeing ourselves a steady, easy life, then we are naive.
However, a life of belief, a life of following Christ, actually can help us to make sense of the ups and downs of life.
Following Christ with heart, mind and soul can give us the strength and wisdom to experience the ups and downs.
Believing in God helps us to see beyond ourselves, and our chaos, to the larger picture.
Because in the end, there is God’s promise, one referred to in the first reading and one we celebrate in a few weeks: God will always be with us; Emmanuel.
Through thick and thin; good times and bad, sickness and health, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are present, ever close to us.
What we are called to do is prepare ourselves, be vigilant, be alert to that presence; we are called to believe.
Because God is with us, but not always in the ways we think or want.
We have this special time of advent, a time of preparation to consider how Christ is born into our lives; how Christ is present.
We have this special time to think of our own lives in relation to Christ, and to maybe look back at some of the chaotic times and to see what got us through.
When life seemed out of control, we try to juggle too much…did we hear the words, “trust and let go, stop trying to control every situation”?
When a relationship was struggling could we feel the impulse to listen to the other, share with the other, forgive the other?
When we struggled with a serious illness and/or death..and we felt so alone…did someone come to us and say, “I am sorry. What can I do for you?”
I often think when my life is all messed up, “okay God get down here and make this person do this, and make that person do that….wipe this person away from existence, etc”. Thinking that will solve my problems.
That is what I expect…but that is not how God acts, at least so far.
Usually it is the Holy Spirit who does something unexpected to me…that causes me to change and grow, and understand.
Isn’t that the Eucharist? Of all things unexpected and really kind of weird…we believe that the Father, through the power of the Spirit, transforms the bread and wine into the very real person of the Son of God.
We Catholics believe this.
I think that this can call us beyond our narrow thinking about God in different ways.
Eucharist can prepare us to be more alert, more vigilant to the movement of God in our lives and in the lives of others.
Moving us to see how Christ is born into our lives, in those wonderful, surprising, mysterious ways.
So that when those moments of chaos occur; when all seems hopeless, dark, lost. As St. John of the Cross wrote…we can go into that darkness and walk with the eyes of faith.