Sunday, 9 December 2012
2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C, Shaftesbury
Baruch 5:1-9; Ps 125:1-5; Lk 3:1-6
We're now in our second week of Advent, second week of getting ready for the coming of The Lord. And I want to tell you one of greatest things I have learnt for bringing happiness to my life, for making myself ready for the Lord's coming, ready to welcome Him whose very presence brings that happiness that exceeds all else.
And that thing is not something complicated, but something simple, namely, to give thanks to God every moment, for every little thing –especially to do so AT THAT MOMENT.
I spoke last week about the importance of seeing God, of recognising Him when He comes, and of the importance of doing this if we are to prepare for His coming at Christmas; prepare of His coming at the End of Time;, prepare for His coming in the daily, hourly, moments of our lives.
There are many things we must do if we are to see God when He comes, if we are to recognise Him. One of those things is to not just recognise Him in Himself, but to recognise what He has DONE. And having the habit of thanking God for the small things in life can be a huge help in seeing the reality of His active presence in our lives - as well as being an important thing that we owe Him anyway (we simply OWE it to Him to thank Him for things).
To thank Him for the chair I have to sit in, to thank Him for the warmth of this church, to thank Him for the food I am eating at lunchtime. For every little thing. If I do this, and in as much as I do this, I remember that He is here, and this fact should give me joy –and should prepare me to welcome Him even more.
In the psalm of today's Mass we had the refrain, "What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad" (Ps 125:3). That psalm followed as a response to our first reading from Baruch. The prophecy Baruch had been given was for the people of Israel while they were in captivity in Babylon, telling them that their time of exile was about to be over, that they were about to be led back to the Promised Land. We know, however, that not all of the people went back to the Promised Land. Some of them remained where they were. Some of them had lost their faith, lost their sight of God's activity, lost sight of the "marvels the Lord (had) worked for us", so it became almost meaningless to them to be told they we being rescued.
We, too, can lose our daily faith. We can lose sight of God's activity in our lives, especially if we are not habitually thanking Him for what He is doing for us.
For us, as for the people Baruch was addressing, it can be important to remember the marvels the Lord has done. Doing that 'remembering' can enable us to see God present, can enable us to 'make a path straight' for Him to return to our lives and hearts. Both that prophecy from Baruch and our Gospel text with St John the Baptist called for the people to prepare a way for the Lord to come. The Lord had once rescued His people from slavery in Egypt, He now was offering to rescue them from captivity in Babylon - they needed to look to Him, to remember the "marvels the Lord worked for us".
While some had forgotten, many of the people Baruch addressed remembered the "marvels the Lord had done” BECAUSE they had been singing the psalms while they were in Exile, had been continuing to THANK God, even in the midst of difficulties. Though, others of the people, sadly, had forgotten Him -they did not recognise Him or His activity, they did follow the lead back out of captivity.
For ourselves, if we are not looking for Him, if we are forgetting Him, if we are forgetting to see what He has done, and is doing in our lives, even in difficulties, then we will not be preparing an inner 'way for the Lord' to come. And we will miss out on what that deeper presence of the Lord brings.
To return to where I began, the simple practice that will help us see God's presence, will help us welcome Him even more, that simple practice is the habit of thanking Him: thanking Him for His marvels in the past, and His gifts to us in the present. Thanking Him for the small daily, hourly things He gives us. "What marvels The Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad!"(Psalm 125:3)