Grace and Peace to you.
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ”
— Matthew 3.1-3
When John the Baptist comes yelling out of the desert telling us to repent, we wonder, with maybe a little panic: Of what? How? What am I supposed to change? Repentance seems like something we have to work at to meet some externally imposed standard, something we have to start getting right. But Advent promises that it’s actually God who’s behaving in a new way, doing something new. All we we do is notice, and say “yes.”
Like Mary, swelling with Christ, we hold a new incarnation of God within us. God is in you, moving with new life, surrounding you, moving in a new way. What is God doing? How is God’s presence unfolding in you? To discern this, of course, you have to be still and watch a long time. It’s as if in the woods you find a little den of some sort and you want to know what kind of animal lives there. What you do then is sit off a way and wait and watch for a long time until whatever it is comes out. You have to be still a very long time.
Be still for a few minutes every day this Advent and wonder, “God, what are you doing in me?” Devote yourself to saying “Yes” to it, whatever it turns out to be. In silence, simply sit and wait. Don’t expect an answer. The little creature won’t come out for a long time. God is doing the work, and you are practicing being present. As you do, you will become more present all day long, all season long, until the truth is revealed. Let this redirecting of your will and your attention be your repentance. Let this attentive presence be your preparing. As Jesus says, watch. Keep awake.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes