And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here…
In these days, while yet there are days and time, by what activity should we make ourselves ready? Why, by meditating on his first coming — for though the future may be hidden from us the past is not, and the one can teach us the other.
The story of the birth of Jesus is open before us. We have a spiritual and holy account of the time when God himself directed preparations for that first coming of his Son into the world. What God ordains is always good. Therefore, those preparations may be the perfect pattern for our own this year again, this year too.
Behold, I bring you good news of great joy! The people who heard the news of that first Advent were no less human than we. They moved through complex stages of response: doubt, fear, questioning, the obedience of love, the obedience of legalism, joy and song, despair and anger. There were groups of people, shepherds, the Magi, innocent children; there were individuals, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, Simeon, Anna, Herod. . .But we have the advantage, now, of meditation: in quietness and confidence to choose the right response and, by the grace of the present Spirit of Jesus, to practice the right preparation for the coming of the Lord in Glory.
So let us enter the story one more time. In this present season of Advent let us experience the infant’s Advent in the past and so make ourselves ready for the Advent of the Lord of Glory in the future.
O Lord,Stir up, we beg you, your power — and come. Come even now into this season of our meditations, that by your protection we may be rescued from our sins, and saved by your mighty deliverance in order to look forward to your final arrival with the joy that cannot be uttered. We pray in your name, O Lord, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Walter Wangerin Jr.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
As I begin, I become aware of the Lord present to me, looking upon me with love, desirous of speaking to my heart. . . .
Prayerfully, I read Matthew 11:25-30.
I sense the thrill of gratitude in the heart of Jesus as he lifts up his heart to the Father whom he so loves, and by whom he knows himself so deeply loved. . .that same father who says to me, as to Jesus: You are my beloved daughter/son. . .
Jesus thanks his Father that he has revealed the mysteries of the Kingdom not to the self-sufficient. . .but to those who feel themselves helpless, dependent on God for everything, like a small infant. . .I ask to be such. . .
I ask Jesus, the Son who knows the Father, to reveal himself, to reveal the Father to me, in this time of prayer. . .that he chooses to do this in my heart. . .
Now he is close to me, speaking to my heart. I hear his invitation: “Come to me . . .
”I share with the Lord my own desire, now in this time of prayer. Even as I sense my heartfelt longing to “come to him,” to know that my heart is close to him. . .I hear him say to me, with infinite love: I want you to come close, I invite you, I call you, “Come to me. . .”
“You who labor and are heavily burdened. . . I will give you rest.” Lord, grant me the rest that my restless heart so seeks. I embrace this invitation. I come to the Lord bringing my burdens, my heart’s laboring and weariness. I hear his promise of rest, heart’s rest . . .
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. . .for I am gentle and lowly of heart.” Two words. Lord, you are gentle, you are lowly of heart. I ponder each word. . .There is no more room for fear. . .
“Learn from me.” I ask the Lord for this “learning” in these times of prayer. . .This is the learning my heart most desires: personal learning, relational learning, learning of Jesus. . . “And you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless, until they rest in you” (St. Augustine). I seek the Lord, I seek his rest. . .
After the Prayer
– What word in this Scripture most spoke to my heart?
– What touched my heart in this time of prayer?
– What did my heart feel as I prayed?
– What did I sense the Lord saying to me?
Timothy M. Gallagher
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