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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Waiting and Listening

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence — Isaiah 64:1-9

Everybody wants to rush through transition like it’s a bad root canal.  But transition is a threshold. It’s a sacred life appointment—the crossing from one world to another.  There are promises, revelations, and messages during this time. You will not escape yourself here. You will not avoid your deepest questions.  This is a blessing. – Tama Kieves

I’m not sure you’ll find a better description of the season of Advent than the above quote from Tama Kieves. Advent is a time of shedding the old and waiting.  It is a time to embrace dormancy.  It is a time to detach and listen, not so much to the clamor of the world but to the silence in our souls.  The great irony of our culture is that we have turned it into one of the most hectic, pressurized times of the year.  

So, Advent comes around every year to remind us to take time and make room in our lives for the transformative Presence of God.   But how - how do we do this and not become Scrooge-like monks?

Here are three suggestions: 

First, turn off the TV, put down the newspaper, and give the Internet a rest.  Try going at least one day a week, more if you can, without the bombardment of media.  Create some room for your own thoughts and feelings and not everybody else’s.

Next, take fifteen minutes each day to be still and quiet – no Bible verses, no mantras, just listen to your breath.

Finally, if you are in the DC area, I invite you to join me and others at Capitol Hill Presbyterian on Wednesday evenings during Advent at 7:30 p.m. for an hour of music, silence, and reflection – an hour in the middle of the week to pause and pay attention.  Our first gathering is tonight.  If you can’t get to CHPC then set aside a similar time for yourself and even invite others to join you.

These three things seem very simple and they really are, but they won’t be easy. You’ll have to be intentional, you’ll have to give up something else, and you may even have to make yourself do them. 

But, if you do, the heavens just may tear open and you will experience the Presence of God.

(from the sermon “Absence, Apocalypse and Anticipation” given at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church on Nov. 27, 2011.   Listen to the entire sermon here.)

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