What do the words Expand, Focus, Experience, Become, Beautify, Heal, Thank have in common? At first glance, probably nothing. I remember an exercise that we had to do in school though. Do you recall having to take your spelling words and make sentences, or a sentence, from them? I wonder if teachers still do that today…? This week’s words could make a very inspiring sentence when put together like that.“During Advent we take time to Expand our Focus, in order to Experience God’s love, and Become more fully a person who will Beautify and Heal the world, because we Thank God for all we have and all we are.”
Looking at the images that spoke to me of these words, we might have inspiration from the individual words, too, as we think about them.
The icon ornament of Mary and the Infant, combined with lectionary readings of Mary’s acceptance of her call to be the Mother of Immanuel is a way to Focus thoughts on the real cost of saying ‘Yes’ to God. Where do I need to say ‘Yes’ more eagerly and with faith?In the Experience of God’s creation, like the image of the mountains near Taos, we also look beyond ourselves into the wider world and find hope for the future that is promised by the coming Babe.
Rahab, in this image from another blog, speaks to me of the reality that God doesn’t classify us by religion, or gender, or color. It sometimes seems, when you read the Bible, that God purposely choses those that society might consider less or useless. God chooses outcasts, murderers, youngest sons, prostitutes, and liars to Become the ones chosen to tell the story of Love. Gives hope to you and me, doesn’t it? Despite what we see as failures, God can use us in wonderful ways!Advent is also a time when we Beautify our homes by putting up decorations. Pausing to take time to Beautify our souls is the goal of the season, too. It is hard to be counter-cultural and take time to do that important work, but it is worth it.
Part of the work of Advent may involve taking time to Heal from the rough times of the past year. Advent is, after all, the church’s new year when we can begin again. This lovely bed says to me, perhaps that healing will take the form of a retreat of some sort, or just taking time to relax.Finally, we must learn to Thank God for the Love and Grace and overflowing bounty of our lives. Even if we are poor in material things or think we are one of the ‘least’ we can be reassured that we are truly called Beloved by the one who comes as a Baby in a manger.
Putting it all together, we can try to live so that “During Advent we take time to Expand our Focus, in order to Experience God’s love, and Become more fully a person who will Beautify and Heal the world, because we Thank God for all we have and all we are.Next week we will finish this calendar with a few final images, culminating in the Love we will Receive on Christmas. Blessings to each of you as we move toward the Manger.