Advent Hope

Psychology has done a wonderful job of giving us words and concepts such as vulnerability and the false or shadow self to talk about our weaknesses.

The AA or 12 step program starts with the admission of powerlessness.

The Bible starts (in Genesis) with two concepts of humanity:

  1. Original goodness
  2. Original sin

We need a way of looking at both our God given identity (of original goodness) and admitting our sins (the shadow self). It’s how we become most human and reflect a divine image in this world.

The appointed prayer of the week during the Advent season helps us to be vulnerable about our sins but also looks toward the coming of Christ in our lives so that we might reflect a new “original goodness” identity. We admit that our powerless to be this new type of original goodness person and need help from a Higher Power.

Prayer

“Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.†”

Playground Story on Patience

There’s a story of three parents at a playground watching their kids and how they each respond (or react) when their kids slip or fall.

Hearing that their child slipped and fell, the first parent runs frantically to see the child.  In panic mode, the parent smothers the child and takes them away from the playground.

The second parent hears the cry of the child and doesn’t move from the bench.  They’re too preoccupied and comes across cold and distant.  The child is left to comfort themselves.

The third parent calmly goes to assist the child and asks in a warm tone, “Sweety, what happened?  Let’s see where it hurts.”  She holds him for a few minutes and then says, “Are you ready to go back out and play?”  The child looks up, nods his head, and runs back out to play.

I’ve thought about this as a parent, but also when I have tough and hard times in my life.  James, one of the early church pastors and fathers, says that when we experience hardship, we are to be like the third parent who turns to Our Heavenly Father for comfort, patience, and wisdom.  We pray for the gift of faith to see how God might be with us, instructing, guiding, and providing.  Like the third parent, God also is compassionate and patient with us.

When hardships come, we can panic, shut down, turn a problem into a crisis, or remain patient as we seek wisdom.  I’ve chosen all of the above.  My prayer has been that as I get older, I remain calm and patient through the storm.  I pray, talk to Christina, seek out trusted friends, and ask for support.  Doing life with a spiritual community of support has been a huge advantage in life.

St. James invites us to be people of faith:  look up to Our Heavenly Father and look away from self (which tends to over-react, shut down, or make mountains).  As look up, may God grant wisdom and patience in abundance.