November 26, 2010

Nov. 26: A rhythm of attentiveness

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By Becky Horst, associate registrar and convocation coordinator
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 24:36-44 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:
Each Christmas season, the mystery and miracle of Incarnation sends a wave of awe over me. Our God is a God who comes to us. The Creator of the Universe stirs and moves among us creatures here on planet Earth. Jesus of Nazareth came and lived among us more than 2,000 years ago. No one knows when he will come again. But we do know that the Holy Spirit stirs and moves among us today. Advent reminds us that God continues to come.

Today’s Scripture passage calls us to be watchful. Stay alert because at any time, when we least expect it, Jesus might appear. The operative emotion here is not fear, but anticipation. Who might be the face of Jesus today? Where might the Holy Spirit intervene and turn a hopelessly dark situation toward the light?

Paradoxically, we are most alert to God’s presence if we regularly take time to step back and reflect. Reflection sharpens our self-awareness and helps us become more attentive. One helpful tool for reflective prayer is the Daily Examen developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Examen is usually done at bedtime. Here is a simplified version to try during this Advent season:

  1. Become aware of God’s presence.
  2. Review the day with gratitude.
  3. Pay attention to your emotions.
  4. Choose one feature of the day and pray about it.
  5. Look toward tomorrow.

During this Advent season, adopt a rhythm of watchfulness and prayer, attention and reflection. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 24:36-44 (NRSV)

“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

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Comments (9)

  1. Some of the good news of Advent is Christmas is the arrival each day of this devotion. And this beginning is so appropriate. We are reminded to be aware, to be mindful, to be peaceful.

    thank you

    Warren Bradbury November 26, 2010 |
  2. I judge my Christmas season by how many times I sit in front of the Christmas Tree, lights out except for the colored tree bulbs and just use the tree as a centering object. I know it is a good year when I can relax in the presence of the holy story of Jesus birth. I know that I am distracted when I am to restless to center myself in the beauty of the Christmas lights. It is good to say that this is the season of anticipation and remaining centered to take in the nativity.

    David Wolfe November 26, 2010 |
  3. Becky: Your thoughtul comments were inspiring. I resonate with the suggestions from the Examen and find them helpful. Irene Bechler

    Irene Bechler November 26, 2010 |
  4. The song, “Oh, Thou, in Whose Presence My Soul Takes Delight.” comes to mind. The gift of the Present Moment is becoming more precious with it’s hope so full of possibilities. Thanks for your sharing of attentiveness.

    Jane Beyeler November 27, 2010 |
  5. becky, thanks for a really helpful and practical devotional. A series of really quite major local church abuse have left me questioning a lot of previously dearly held assumptions and practices. St Ignatius’ structure seemed really useful in such a context. Enjoy your Advent! Tony, Ireland.

    tony Walsh November 30, 2010 |
  6. I appreciate your practical suggestions, be aware, thankfulness, etc.

    I will keep this with my advent devotionals and read it daily.

    faye brenneman November 30, 2010 |
  7. Becky,
    Thanks for the inspiring thoughts.I will share this with my church family.
    God bless you!

    Dominic Tommy December 1, 2010 |
  8. thank you for sharing this spiritual practice.

    Stu Buisch December 1, 2010 |
  9. Thank you for bring me back to my own tradition.

    Alvaro Riveros-Polanco December 9, 2010 |