Keep Your Eyes Open! Rev. Judy’s Homily for The First Sunday in Advent Nov. 30, 2014

Sometimes I feel like the girl in the picture at the right of J. Janda’s poem, “Patterns” as it appears on the Sunday Website of St. Louis University University:  liturgy.slu.edu.

A Poem To Sit With
The First Sunday of Advent B
November 30, 2014

It is a cartoon by Martin Espramer,OSB,  of a young woman sitting in a chair asleep with something like a broom leaning on a wall behind her and an angry bald headed man standing over her.  I don’t quite get the scene, is it a girl and a teacher, a cleaning woman and a boss, a father and a daughter? I am not sure and I am not inclined to accept the angry looking man as a God-figure-or the view that God is angry at our shortcomings.  But I am sure that I do fall asleep on the job. I am sure that I do too much and reflect too little. I am sure that I am not often true to my nature anymore because I rarely take time to be quiet, to experience, to think, pray, and ponder, appreciate, and write poetry. I am such a complex combination of needing to work actively for the kin-dom and live the social justice teachings of Christ and the church as in our Matthew 25 readings of last week, and needing to stop and be quiet and share the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in words and poems. With that dual focus balance is needed and I have lost it for the time being. I am running (away) too much, as Janda suggests and as the prophet Isaiah (63:17) suggests when he says we are wandering far from God. I can identify with Isaiah’s feeling that even our good deeds are polluted and we have all withered like leaves (Isaiah 64:6). I know when I am “off balance” because I get grumpy and angry and exhausted. I feel very much like a withered leaf. I have often said that it is God’s creation, particularly the life abundant at my little lake that grounds me. And yet, there are days when I do not spare even the few minutes it takes to step outside and feed the ducks, ibis, fish and turtles and appreciate the deep beauty and meaning of those moments-the “Thank you, God!” and restoration that those moments bring. There are times when I let that which means the most to me become just one more chore. But, whenever I make even the slightest effort I am rewarded with peace and joy and awe of that God who restores us (Psalm 80) and strengthens us (I Cor 3:9) and is, as Isaiah says, our Mother/Father and the potter who shapes and molds us with care and love.

So, I appreciate Advent when we are to stop a while and open our eyes to what is around us and really see it, as if for the first time. That is what alertness and being watchful means to me. Not to wait for something or someone to come, but to open my eyes and see who is already here and what is surrounding me. To really see and experience the moment. The beautiful spiritual poet J. Janda captures this need to watch, and see. (This is from the St. Louis website, under Spirituality of the Readings on textweek.com)

What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'” (Gospel)

Patterns         by J. Janda
Again I was running
from you, Lordwhen I fell
into
that field
of
clover filled
with
filigree butterflies
and
enameled bugs
on
apple leaves

blue chicory
and
running rabbits
and
daisies gold
and
white—all in
full
sunlight

J. Janda

(The  poem comes from Janda’s book,
IN EMBRACE
.
If you wish to order a copy go to http://www.lifeinchrist-newsletter.com     ). 
 photo 2Good Shepherd’s Youth Leader Efe Jane Cudjoe appreciating the sunflowers in an airport in Thailand during her semester of study abroad from Brown University. 

As we light the first candle, the candle of hope, in the advent wreath tomorrow may we be filled with the hope that we may refresh and renew our lives this Advent-time; that all that is withered within us may be brought to life again; that we will look and see God’s creation, the beauty in each lined and anxious face we see, the sacred in the flowers, small animals and birds and most especially the sacredness of God’s people-young and old, beautiful and withered. Let us hope that we can learn to wait with anticipation for God with us, of Emanuel, of the Christ-child and of the Christ. And let us hope to then work to renew the world with the Spirit of the Living God burning bright within us-like the candle of hope for a weary world.

There is a song by Daniel Iverson that I first heard in St. Michael, a black and Hispanic Roman Catholic Church in Hartford Connecticut where my soul was renewed.. We will sing it tomorrow as we recall that in this waiting time, this advent, our Potter is still with us renewing our souls and creating us anew:

“Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.

Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.

Melt me, mold me,

Fill me, use me—

Spirit of the living God,

Fall fresh on me.”

In this time of anticipation of the coming of Christ once again may we, in stillness and hope, know deeply that we and this world can be made new again.

Amen.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Co-Pastor of the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida

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