Today we begin the season of Advent, anticipating the coming celebration of Christmas, the Incarnation when the Word Made Flesh first dwelled among us, a time to quiet ourselves and hear the still small voice of God whispering in our minds and hearts.
Listening to people prepare for the season, it began the Friday after Thanksgiving with selecting a live Christmas tree from a nearby tree farm, putting up lights and decorations on homes and businesses, transforming night into a twinkling wonderland. But, more than that, it is a season that could be a time for stillness, listening, and waiting that seems to become a frenetic busy time filled with more activities than there is room for in the daily planner or electronic calendar. There is so much to do, decorating, buying the right gift, preparing food and entertaining – people find themselves pulled in so many directions.
Because there is so much going on, where are the still points in our every increasingly busy lives? Where is the time to pause, reflect, and get in touch with the faith preparations, opening our hearts in a new way for Christ to be born anew in our lives and experiences? Maybe this season of Advent is calling us to stop, look, and listen like we do at a crosswalk and discover something new in our daily rhythms, to find Christ in the unexpected moments that come our way.
For Saint Anthony parish it is also a time to put out the figurative welcome mat and invite friends and family to discover this family oriented church community on Sunday. To let people know we are here and you are here to welcome them as people welcomed the Christ child so long ago. How can we welcome others to this place of worship? How do we help people connect with Mary and Christ in this hectic and busy season?
Every day I give thanks for Saint Anthony parishioners, for this faith community where people show true care and concern for others, it is evident to those who visit, provided they get in the front door and worship here. We need to actively help people remember that we are inviting people to experience something wonderful and extraordinary when we come to Eucharist that God is ever willing to fill us with love, mercy and care. How much do we need that gift not only at this time of year, but all year long? Let us be ambassadors to let others know that “all are welcome, all are welcome.” Let us sit and wait with the Lord to be born anew in our lives this year.
Blessings, Father Larry Hendel