And what I’m saying to you, I’m saying to all: Stay awake! Mark 13:37
I thought of my Dad at mass Sunday. Swirling among the words that you hear the first Sunday of Advent like watch, wait, prepare Father said “Pay Attention!” It grabbed me and I thought of one of Dad’s most famous one liners; “Pay attention…always pay attention…it doesn’t cost anything to pay attention!”
I guess it’s my Advent message so now I’m offering it to you too. The thing about paying attention is that you have to be in the present to do it. You have to be HERE, NOW…even if here and now aren’t where you want to be. As 2020 winds down (Thank you Jesus!) we’re thinking about wanting to be somewhere else…as if the mayhem and sadness of all of this will magically disappear one month from Tuesday. Advent is a time to get ready and the time for that starts now. I have to make room for him today…here…now…not when I think I will like things better. The funny thing is, he’s not “there” in that land of “normal” or “what used to be”. He’s HERE…NOW…today in this weird, strange, bizarre and surprisingly beautiful season.
I had to adjust my thinking a little today. Jesus is coming and things may not look much better on December 25th. I’m caught between warning him about the giant mess he’s about to enter and suggesting he wait a while longer until things get better. Then it hit me…HE makes things better and the thing he wants to make “better” the most is ME! Things aren’t changing, so it occurred to me that I’m the one being called to change and if I don’t PAY ATTENTION I’m gonna miss it all! When you study a little Scripture it’s pretty easy to see the world was pretty much a giant mess when Jesus came the first time so I don’t think he’ll be surprised or frightened or dismayed at all. I think he’ll find the good in all of it and all of us!
For the next few weeks I’ll be trying to pay attention. I’ll be sure to check the corners and the unexpected places where I might find Jesus trying to grab my attention. Scripture tells us he could always be found in unexpected places like sinners homes, with prostitutes, with the poor and in a stable. Paying attention is the work of the expectant. It’s a place of noticing, observing, eyes-wide-open attention each day but it’s not a place of fear or a place of excitement. It’s something different; it’s looking and expecting with hope but not prescribing the outcome. It’s no time for “fearful doom” thinking and it isn’t time for “Jesus make me feel warm, fuzzy and gleeful.” It’s paying attention with faith knowing that his will is perfect and he will reveal it little nuggets at a time. It’s being so expectant that even the teeniest of those nuggets fills us with a joy that leaves us breathless until we see the next one.
This Advent is different because this year we have something (thank you Covid) we usually don’t have; TIME! We aren’t rushing to parties and concerts and events. On one hand that can seem a little sad but wait…haven’t we all said in the past, “I could do Advent better if I had some time and wasn’t so busy!” Here we go…lets make this a really great Advent…let’s pay attention and prepare for him HERE and NOW! My prayer for the first week of Advent is to pay attention to the places I need to make room. I’m asking him to show me what needs to be shoved to the side and what needs to be tossed completely out to prepare room for HIM.
A Seed To Plant: Make a short list of specific things you can do to prepare and pay attention now that we have a little more time.
Blessings on your day!
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