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  • Writer's pictureThe Rev. Beth Knowlton

Advent Wakefulness

“Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

From Mark 13:24-37

Advent is one of my favorite seasons. It’s an invitation to step outside the fast pace of the culture and cultivate a different posture as we await the great gift of incarnation-God made flesh. I’ve softened a good bit over the years in terms of my decorative practices. I used to feel it was important to not put my tree up too early or decorate my house before Advent was fully underway.  

A few years ago, though, I put my up my tree and decorated it around Thanksgiving. I actually found it helped my Advent observance. I wasn’t trying to insert my decorating into a busy time at work. I loved the visible reminder of the lights and I’ll admit my large inflatable Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer never fails to make me smile. Frankly, that smile is brought through the sheer absurdity of its presence in my yard. When I pull in my driveway, I pay more attention to the gift of having a yard and neighbors who inspired the purchase with their own extravagant lawn display. I was traveling this year, so I’m feeling a bit behind, but I hope in the next week I’ll be able to place these small markers of joy on display for all to see.

Advent watchfulness is not about when we decorate our houses. Advent watchfulness is about an important posture we are called to inhabit all year long. It is about looking with expectation for signs of new life and God’s presence in each moment. It can be challenging to hold this posture consistently, which is why I welcome the season each year. The start of the liturgical year is a reminder to begin again. Without shame or disappointment, we remind ourselves of the ways in which we hope this year will be a fuller observation of God’s gift of presence. I don’t need to confess my times of falling short last year to begin again. I can ask God for the grace to expand my view. Where might I see the Christ child that I have failed to notice in the past? In the midst of real horror and brokenness in the world, can I look for signs of grace and hope even there? How might fully grounding myself in holy presence make my fears for the future seem less overwhelming and my burdens of the past be lighter? Keeping awake to God’s promise in each moment is a way of reminding ourselves we are never alone.

Peace, Beth +


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