Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent: Not Just an Extended Christmas Pageant

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent: The Catholic New Year, and the beginning of one of my favourite seasons in the Church.  Advent is all about happy anticipation, and preparation for God[dess]'s great appearance on Earth.  I love imagining myself in the days when everyone hoped and had faith that a savior was coming, watching the signs unfold...of course, God[dess] is still among us.  [S]He's always waiting on the outskirts of our hearts, wanting to take action through us.  Advent is a chance to open our hearts to welcome the Divine deep within, where [S]He can change us into ever more loving people, and we can build the Kingdom of God[dess] on Earth!

I find it terribly comforting to know that I don't have to relinquish my ego all by myself.  With my permission The Divine can work within me, filling me up so I don't have to be afraid that without my ego, I'll be nothing.

This year, I was asking myself what I would need, and what I would need to let go of, to prepare myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally to follow the historical Jesus.  Imagine how much courage it would take to tell your family and friends you're leaving your life to go follow a traveling preacher with some crazy ideas! How much humility would it take to hear this guy you left everything behind for tell you that you're no better than prostitutes, and tax collectors who rob your neighbors blind?  How much love would you have to have to watch these people be welcomed into your midst, treated the same as you, and to treat them with respect and acceptance yourself?  As a man, how much wisdom would you have to have to see beyond the culture you were raised in and accept women in a position over you, in charge of organizing your travel plans, and new members?

Well, Jesus left this earth nearly 2,000 years ago, leaving behind a passionate band of followers who did their darndest to spread his message of radical love and inclusion.  How are we doing?  Showing love and respect to prostitutes and tax collectors?  How about gay people?  Welcoming women as contributors and leaders?  How about paying them the same amount for the same work?

Perhaps you see my point: We all need to keep right on celebrating Advent until we're truly ready to build God[dess]'s Kingdom on Earth.  We've still got a long way to go!

What do you need, or need to let go of, to prepare to follow Jesus, or maybe a different guru all together, teaching radical love and inclusion?  On my personal list I found:
-to let go of the idea that if someone else wins, I lose
-to remember that we're all connected, so when I give to others, I'm giving to myself
-to remember how much I don't know about other people and other situations
-to cultivate love and forgiveness for myself when I fail at practicing radical love and acceptance

There are certainly more, but those four definitely cover a lot of ground, and I've only got three weeks and two days!  What's on your list?
 The more light you can receive, the more you can give.

Live Omily,
~em

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