December 9, 2017
by Nancy Shirley
Creighton University's School of Nursing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the First Week of Advent
Lectionary: 180

Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26
Psalms 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Matthew 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6-8

Today's Advent Prayer

Praying Advent Home Page

Becoming John the Baptist
- Preparing the Way for Jesus

Doing Service in Advent

Experiencing Advent Deeply for Busy People

Today is the end of the first week of Advent.  I always equate Advent with anticipation and waiting, as I think most do.  It is also a time of coming – awaiting the greatest Gift of all time.  A Gift that so often I feel unworthy to receive yet still I receive the Grace of that Gift every day in my life.  It is at this time of year that we start the church calendar and the story of our journey to salvation.  As I was reading about Advent, one source labelled each of the four weeks: 1st week is about Hope; the 2nd week about Love; the 3rd about Joy and the last week about Peace.  I immediately took to these labels and since this is the end of that first week, will focus on Hope.  A topic I need very much these days as I’m sure I’m not alone in sometimes feelings overwhelmed by the happenings in this world – some from a distance and some up close and personal.  Hope is what will carry me (us) through as I (we) recognize that this is merely a transition – we are not Home yet!

Our first reading tells of God’s grace to the people of Zion.  He is responding to the weeping, the hardships of life, and the struggles that seem insurmountable.  He is there to comfort in a variety of ways – no longer hidden.  And yet we are reminded:

While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears:
"This is the way; walk in it,"
when you would turn to the right or to the left.

As I think of these struggles, I can’t help but think of the struggles of this year – the violence and horror throughout the world, the abuses we see in so many areas.  On the up close and personal side, I am humbled by the challenges that so many I know have faced this year.  A cousin whose young husband (and father of two) died from a bizarre infection contracted on a trip to Boro Boro (a trip won for exceptionable performance at work);  a nephew who unfairly was let go from a position where he excelled; friends who lost their child to the struggle with drugs; a grand nephew who lost his high school friend to yet another raging infection in a matter of days; and very close to my heart, my step-daughter being diagnosed with cancer and my grandson making life choices that may end in tragedy.  It is overwhelming and could lead us down a very dark path. But, before you stop reading and think I am “Debbie downer” today, I will share the Hope that has sprung from all of these. 

Our cousin wrote at Thanksgiving, that is was hard to believe that a year with such profound loss could be a year when she is so full of gratitude – thankful for the myriad of friends who gathered around, thankful for family and time with her boys, thankful for the beautiful memories with the love of her life. My nephew found a different job within a week that will offer more benefits and appreciate his many talents.  Our friends will never fill the emptiness in their hearts for their son but instead focus on ways to help others and ask for donations to halfway houses and other resources for youth.  My grand nephew is embraced by so many friends and perhaps will find a path to God in this.  My step-daughter is healing well surrounded by, really engulfed in, love and support beyond belief – strengthening family ties and bonds.  I am falling a little short in the last challenge, the only thing I do have left is HOPE!  I fight the tears as I write this because I am at a loss to put a positive spin on this one.  But . . . I must believe that this God who accepts me with all my faults and frailties, who loves me beyond anything I have ever experienced, is there.  I hear the small voice in my ear, This is the Way; walk in it.

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