Mention John the Baptist and I hear echoes of the stirring song from the 1970 musical Godspell, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord! Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” John, called the Baptiser, was what we would call a non-conformist, setting himself apart in both his lifestyle and the message
Most of us are not called to be a John the Baptist, but a little streaking with his spirit wouldn’t go amiss this Advent. Despite a long tradition of external faith practices, Catholics in Australia keep their faith and Christian spirituality all buttoned up and private.Blend in, yes, but stand out a little too. Maybe you could loosen up a bit.
It could be as ordinary as placing a crib in a prominent position among your Christmas decor or maybe commencing Christmas lunch with an acknowledgment of the one whose birth-day is being celebrated with good food and gifts. In a mixed gathering that can be religiously daunting. I think I’ll write down my Christmas grace just in case my private self wants to chicken out. I can’t have John, called the Baptizer, ashamed of me!
Let us pray:
In our secret yearnings we wait for your coming,
and in our grinding despair we doubt that you will.
And in this privileged place we are surrounded by witnesses who yearn more than do
and by those who despair more deeply than do we.
Look upon your church and its pastors in this season of hope which runs so quickly to fatigue
and this season of yearning which becomes so easily quarrelsome.
Give us the grace and the impatience to wait for your coming
to the bottom of our toes, to the edges of our finger tips.
We do not want our several worlds to end.
Come in your power and come in your weakness in any case
and make all things new. Amen.
(The grace and the impatience to wait / Walter Brueggemann 1994)
Get into the Advent spirit
Each year families give and receive all kinds of Christmas cards. Usually we look at them, see who they are from and put them on display. Often they contain a special message for us. This year why not pray your Christmas cards. Read each card slowly, maybe even out loud. For a minute or two hold the sender in your cupped hands as you recall the relationship you share, before placing them in the hands of God.