I joined a group of parents hovering around the outdoor sign at my son’s school this morning. We gathered together to pray for the community of Sandy Hook. We also prayed for the safety of our children’s school. I came home with a heavy heart, feeling a solidarity with parents around the nation who sent their little ones to school today with twinges of fear and helplessness. I poured a fresh cup of coffee, lit a candle, and settled down for a personal quiet time. I opened the Advent lectionary verse for the day from Zephaniah 3: “Sing aloud, O daughter Zion….the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.” How I love it when God speaks directly to my heart! Lord, be in the midst of my children’s schools! I will hold fast to that scripture in this season of fear.
During Advent, we celebrate coming: The arrival of the first coming of Jesus. And we anticipate the second coming of Jesus Christ. It probably won’t be in my lifetime. But, especially after an unfathomable tragedy like the shootings at Sandy Hook, I long for the day, as the Bible says, when every tear will be wiped away. “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain….” Revelations 21:4. I am waiting for that with longing.
I have friends who are waiting for employment. Waiting for a healing. Waiting for a baby. Waiting for a prodigal child to return. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Please, God, we’re waiting.
Besides the tradition of lighting the candles on the wreath, I want to use the season of Advent to engage in spiritual practices that form more of Christ in my heart, for the sake of others. I want to know, come January, that I am more then of what I am not now.
What am I not? I am not patient by nature. I don’t wait well. I am fast-paced and have little regard for slowness. So, I am practicing slowing down. I am doing this in some small ways. I am deliberately choosing the longest line in the grocery store. I am letting other cars pull in front of me on the road. I am trying to listen to others tell their stories before I blurt out mine.
I am also longing for a tear-less world of peace that Revelations speaks of. Therefore, I am practicing being a peacemaker. I am biting my tongue instead of giving a quick quip. I am trying to reach out in love to those that are hard for me to love. I am trying to let slights go.
I am attempting to bless others with patience and peace, with the hope that God shapes me into that kind of person for real. That’s the very mystical thing about spiritual practices…..God uses them to form more of Christ in our hearts. We practice…..and He shapes us.
What is something that you are waiting for? Consider you could engage in the Advent season in a way that lets God change you for the better. Wouldn’t that be awesome?