In the Unexpected
“What could happen next?” How many times have you asked yourself that question in the past year? Though we most often use that expression when things don’t seem to be going our way, this year it has been an expression of the constant changes to our world which the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought. But we might use the same expression to explain our feelings of being overwhelmed by blessings and good things, when the stars seem to align just right.
No matter what, we can say with certainty that tomorrow will not go exactly as we envisioned. Our lives are influenced by so many factors and the world around us is increasingly complex. Rather than be surprised by the unexpected, maybe we should expect the unexpected.
Living in this manner causes us to cherish more deeply the gifts we have been given. It helps us to live in the present and become mindful of those around us. Our relationships deepen. Our sense of responsibility builds. Our stewardship way of life finds new meaning and purpose.
This Advent will not be the same experience as last Advent. It remains to be seen what the coming days and weeks have in store for each of us. However, no matter what happens, Jesus Christ is there to welcome us to the unexpected. He will celebrate with us in joy and he will even feel our pain. You can count on the unexpected, but you can also count on Him to be there with you. He is now and forever, Emmanuel, “God with us.” He is the expected in all things unexpected.
– Tracy Earl Welliver ©LPi
First Sunday of Advent
Concentration and focus are key to developing a healthy, vibrant spiritual life. If we do not bring our full consciousness to the task, concentrate with all our might, be watchful and vigilant, we are not going to see God’s loving presence flashing before our eyes! That’s why we need Advent. Let’s face it. We can easily get distracted, focus on nonessential and superficial things and lose touch with what really matters. Our attentions wander. We daydream and even become a bit overwhelmed and tired. All of the stresses and demands of life consume us and we find ourselves constantly trying to play catch up rather than relishing the moment of the now.
“Now” moments are so fleeting. Present moments go as quickly as they come but it is important to discover them and rest in them as often as we can. Though gone in a flash, these now moments of encounter with God teach powerful lessons and offer a grounding in truth that can be found nowhere else. It’s the grace of Advent to become watchful and attentive because we are never sure when God will surprise us. God loves surprises and love thrives on them! God’s now moments of surprises come as tender instants of intimate connection where I find profound peace, experience joy, and rest in love. These are Advent times reflective of the now moments when Christ first was born, when God surprises us during every time we care to watch and when the great surprise of Christ’s second coming dawns upon us all. But, to discover the grandeur and experience the awe of these now times, we have to be ready. We have to want to be there. We have to believe. And, we have to have the desire to soak in as much as we can in the time we have before us.
Sunday: Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7/Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19 /1 Cor 1:3-9/Mk 13:33-37
Monday: Rom 10:9-18/Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11 /Mt 4:18-22
Tuesday: Is 11:1-10/ Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 [cf. 7]/Lk 10:21-24
Wednesday: Is 25:6-10a/Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6 [6cd]/Mt 15:29-37
Thursday: Is 26:1-6/Ps 118:1 and 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a [26a]/Mt 7:21, 24-27
Friday: Is 29:17-24/Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14 [1a]/Mt 9:27-31
Saturday: Is 30:19-21, 23-26/Ps 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6 [cf. Is 30:18d]/Mt 9:35—10:1, 5a, 6-8
Next Sunday: Is 40:1-5, 9-11/Ps 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14 /2 Pt 3:8-14/Mk 1:1-8
When you play on a baseball team, you learn how to pay attention. Your coach reminds you and your teammates to stay ready. You learn to watch the ball. Those are good lessons to learn, because Jesus wants you to pay attention, too. Keep your eyes and your mind on Jesus, so you're ready when he comes.
Jesus, help me to stay ready for you.
Something to Draw
Draw a picture of people who help you stay ready for Jesus.
Mission for the Week
Play a quick game of baseball. Cheer for one another. End the game with a prayer that you will keep your eyes on Jesus.
We hear today the prophet Isaiah’s internal spiritual struggle as he questions God’s ways and decries our human tendency to sin.
What spiritual struggles do you need to confront as we enter into the season of Advent?
In his opening words to the Corinthian Christians, Paul reminds the faithful of God’s fidelity to those who believe in his Son. He then cites examples of the blessings they have received since coming to the faith.
What are some blessings you have received in your faith journey?
Jesus instructs his disciples to be vigilant for the end times.
How can you make this spiritual discipline a focus of your Advent season this year?
God already has the solution.