First Sunday of Advent
The Four Weeks of Advent 2018
These reflections are drawn from the readings for the four Sundays of Advent, which is a season in itself and the run-up to Christmas. The best benefit comes from reading the scripture passages themselves — so the references are given and are available on the wccm.org website. The reflections themselves might also be usefully read during the rest of the week, not only on Sunday.
Advent is a word that suggests a journey and indeed an adventure. If life isn’t an adventure we would die of boredom or sadness.
As in the great quests in myths across all cultures, the hero in Advent is looking for something – often their true home or 'parental origin'. There are trials to be endured and knowledge to be won by testing ourselves at the extreme limits of the known. Failures are part of the process and important teachers, which train us to think of success in less egocentric, cosmic ways.
The strange thing about the Christian adventure quest is the non-duality of the story. Is it us seeking God or God seeking us? Is it the Son ‘coming to his own’ and not being made welcome or us setting out across the interstellar spaces towards the primordial moment of creation? The answer to this paradox – although paradoxes don’t have answers – is spoken when God pours infinite fullness into the limited receptacle of a human container. This is the Incarnation, Jesus.
As a Christian adventure, the season of Christmas opens the annual cycle of the spiritual New Year. It squares the circle of cyclical and linear time – what goes round and what passes through the mortality of the human dimension is like an arrow shooting into death. Daily meditation does the same, allowing us to both live in spiritual time and do the laundry.
Liturgical time contains: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and the long Ordinary Time and lots of Feasts and the occasional Solemnity. One of the benefits for the meditator of following a liturgical season is that it helps embed and nourish our personal daily practice in the rich soil of a living transmission of wisdom – a tradition.
This year’s Advent reflections will revolve around the Sunday gospel of each week. They may also provide some resources for the adventure of each weekday that connects the following four Sundays.
Using Advent wisely could help us to celebrate - not the fake consumerist festival it has become - but the real Feast of Christmas. This Feast comes around annually but each time it marks a new stage of the arrow’s flight of our lives. I hope our weekly reflections will help you prepare and celebrate for this festival that sheds such light on the love that flows between God and ourselves – the longest love affair in the cosmos.
Fr. Laurence Freeman
Advent Reflections 2018