Advent or Lent?

“The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end of all in us that is not yet Christ.”

~Thomas Merton


Yes.  I’m quoting about Advent during Lent.  I can do that you know.  It’s MY blog posting.  That quote is one of my favorites.  A friend of mine introduced me to it a few years ago and it captivates me every time I read it and reflect on it.  In Advent, which is a word that means “to arrive or to come,” we prepare for Christmas and the coming of Jesus.  During Lent, which is a word that means “lengthening of the day,” we prepare for Easter and resurrection.

I believe that either season - Advent or Lent - can be a time for us to ponder what needs to change in us to be more like the One who is coming and the One who is going to be resurrected to new life.

What parts of us need to transition from death to new life?  What parts of us need a fleshy Messiah to come and revive our weary souls?  Think of what parts of you and me are not yet Christ.  Our hands?  Eyes?  Mouths?  Hearts?  How often does some part of us go off in its own direction and not even come close to resembling Christ?  Getting cut off by some crazy driver, you won’t find me singing a church hymn.  Standing in line at Wegmans, waiting for the person checking out to find their cards to pay, you won’t find me praying for patience.

People would say to me, “I need to pray for more patience.”  I would ask, “How do you know you haven’t used what you’ve got?”  We think we need more, like patience is a quantity.  Yet, I wonder if we are more apt, in the heat of a moment, to pull from the bucket of anger and F-bombs rather than from the bucket of patience and understanding.  The anger bucket is more readily available.

As we approach the coming Holy Week, it might be good reflection to look at how our lives and our being do not reflect Christ.  As we follow the One from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, how might we take the journey of dying to the things that are just not us?  Might there be a stripping away process like his?  Or might there be a time of grieving like his family and friends?  Might our mouths need a purgation as we hear the words of condemnation and ridicule?  Or might we seek some holy food that will reveal to us, in a most intimate way, who we truly are?  Might we need to walk a road that purges us of the things that are not us?

Advent. Lent.  2 different liturgical seasons.  Yet, can have the same effect on us.  We take the journey of dying to self so that we can arrive home again, renewed and surprised to see ourselves, maybe for the first time.  And, during Lent, as the days lengthen, maybe we begin to cast larger shadows that image the Christ.

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