Joyful Anticipation Deepens

by Zac Harmon-McLaughlin

Joyful anticipation deepens.
This waiting is expectant.
This yearning pounds with possibility.
Joyful anticipation deepens.

The Holy is present,
The sacred right alongside us.
Though there is no clarity, there is certainty.
Joyful anticipation deepens.

Even when our sighs are wordless,
Even when our groans are aching,
Even when we cannot pray,
Joyful anticipation deepens.

And the longer we wait,
The more joyful our expectance.
We are enlarged by the waiting,
And our joyful anticipation deepens.

Spiritual Practice- Praying with Scripture
Today’s reflection was inspired by a time of prayer with the scripture text below. Read through the text several times slowly and prayerfully. Pause between readings to dwell in silent attention to the presence of God speaking to you through these words. Notice what captures your attention, or where you feel drawn to explore. What is God’s invitation to you this Advent season through this text?

Romans 8:21-28, MSG
Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens. All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

2 Spiritual Retreat Opportunities in 2016. Registration is now open! 

Deep Hunger Deep Thrist - small[2]
Spiritual Retreat at the Community of Christ Temple in Independence, Missouri. Click the image above for more information.
Practice the Prophetic-small
Spiritual Retreat at the Spiritual Formation Center in Kirtland, OH. Click the image above for more information.

 

 

 

A Journey Through Advent

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

I have heard from several people that they are not yet ready to think about Advent. I can relate to their resistance. Lately, I feel like I’ve been speeding through this life, coming up for air just in time to see the next season racing toward me. Busyness is an addiction. I have such good intentions of keeping open space and still it becomes full, and still it becomes rushed, and still I find myself weary from all the doing, struggling to gather the energy required for what is coming next.

Our journey through the Christian year serves a sacred and formational purpose. Perhaps it is when Advent seems to come so quickly, in our hurried movement from one season to the next, that we need its arrival the most. Perhaps being perfectly ready to receive Advent isn’t the point since it is the season of growing in readiness. Perhaps Advent is offered to us as a gift of grace, inviting us to the deeper rest of remembering how the Holy lives beyond what we can produce or control.

Sometimes, writes Alessandro Pronzato, “the most urgent thing is- to wait.”

Advent is a season of waiting, making ready, preparing a space for what God is doing in and through us. It reminds us that we cannot make on our own the one thing we want most. The invitation is to be attentive enough in the waiting to notice the signs of new life stirring beneath what we can see.

“That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” Romans 8:23-25, MSG

Something is happening. This we can know. Advent’s destination is always what is promised: GOD-WITH-US. But there are no shortcuts or bypasses. What is needed is TIME for FORMING and our souls made available for this holy task. Our participation is required, but it is not one more thing to do. It is attention to what the Spirit is doing. It is our deepest hope becoming alive within us. It is deep hope being made real for the whole world.

So if you’re not quite ready, that’s ok.
Take a deep breath, maybe a few.
There is no rush.
The getting ready will happen along the way.

This Advent, you are invited to join us in a daily retreat through reflections, poems, prayers, and practices. 

Week 1– Advent Visitations: A Sacred Yes
Week 2– Advent Confrontations: Patience and Paradox
Week 3– Advent Vision: Bearing the Gift
Week 4– Advent Hope: Trusting the Promise