Sunday, December 4, 2011

Second Sunday of Advent

"A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him . . ." (Isa.11:1-2).

These words from last night's liturgy have stayed with me during the day. Our salvation comes from something small, tender, and vulnerable, something hardly noticeable. God, who is the Creator of the Universe, comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness.

I find this a hopeful message. Somehow, I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God's saving power; but over and over again I am reminded that spectacles, power plays, and big events are the ways of the world. Our temptation is to be distracted by them and made blind to the "shoot that shall sprout from the stump."

When I have no eyes for the small signs of God's presence - the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the words of encouragement and gestures of love offered by friends - I will always remain tempted to despair.

The small child of Bethlehem, the unknown young man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, he asks for my full attention. The work of our salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continues to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises. But the promise is hidden in the shoot that sprouts from the stump, a shoot that hardly anyone notices. 

This is An Advent reflection from Henry Nouwen and I wanted to share it for a few reasons. I want to first ask a few questions; How caught up are you in the rush of this season? Has the world gotten a hold of you and Jesus' season and made it into something that you don't even enjoy? What does your church look like during this season?

I really am tired of the hype, of the huge over done Christmas trees, of the fake smiles and of the world taking over this season. We have been distracted from the coming of the savior of the world! It's still there and it's up to us to seek it and Him out. If Jesus doesn't come in a parade are you going to miss him? 

When I was younger, I remember our youth group being part of a live nativity scene. We had taken a trip to New Zealand, so we had a lovely sheep skin and I was one of the sheep! I can still do a sheep sound that makes your head spin. We all would be talking and having a good time, when one of the shepherds would give the alarm that someone was coming and to be still. Then it would happen... the smallness of the moment. We would think about the part we were playing and how that was part of the greatest story ever! We would think about how it would have felt to have been that shepherd. That's when Christmas would come alive!

I challenge you to let go of the world and it's overwhelming claims and promises and to find the promise that's hidden in the smallness.   

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