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The Scripture readings for this First Sunday of Advent reflect longing, gratitude, and watchfulness. While the text from Isaiah recognizes that Israel had sinned and turned away from God, their creator, and redeemer, it concludes with the people’s beautiful recognition that they are clay in God’s hands. We, too, are clay in God’s hands! What an incredible image!
Quite a few years ago, I had the delight of participating in several courses where I “played” at the potter’s wheel. Once I learned to center the clay (which was a marvelous achievement), I then learned how to raise the clay into a cylinder. Though never terribly accomplished at the wheel, becoming sensitive to the clay became a meditative experience. Each week, I looked forward to being able to feel the clay in my hands. And whenever I had the opportunity to watch a skilled potter, mold a ball of clay into beautiful shapes, I was filled with awe.
When I try to imagine that I am clay in God’s hands, I must pause and reflect on what this might mean. Am I willing to let God “center me?” Mold me into something new? Am I ready to let myself be transformed, regardless of my age, into whatever vessel God might desire me to be to help bring about God’s justice and peace?
This Advent may each of us recognize that people everywhere “…are all the work of God’s (your) hands,” (Isaiah 64:7c), and may we allow ourselves to be centered and shaped into instruments of God’s loving presence on Earth.
Nosotras somos el Barro y tú el Alfarero
Las lecturas de las Escrituras para este Primer Domingo de Adviento reflejan anhelo, gratitud y vigilancia. Aunque el texto de Isaías reconoce que Israel había pecado y se había alejado de Dios, su creador y redentor, concluye con el hermoso reconocimiento del pueblo de que son barro en las manos de Dios. ¡Nosotras también somos barro en las manos de Dios! ¡Qué imagen tan increíble!
Hace bastantes años tuve el placer de participar en varios cursos donde “jugué” al torno de alfarero. Una vez que aprendí a centrar el barro (lo cual fue un logro maravilloso), aprendí a elevar el barro hasta formar un cilindro. Aunque nunca fui una gran experta en la rueda, el volverme sensible al barro se convirtió en una experiencia meditativa. Cada semana anelhaba poder sentir el barro en mis manos. Y cada vez que tenía la oportunidad de ver a un alfarero experto moldear una bola de barro en formas hermosas, me llenaba de asombro.
Cuando trato de imaginar que soy barro en las manos de Dios, debo hacer una pausa y reflexionar sobre lo que esto podría significar. ¿Estoy dispuesta a dejar que Dios “me centre”? ¿Moldearme en algo nuevo? ¿Estoy lista para dejarme ser transformada, sin importar mi edad, en cualquier recipiente que Dios desee que sea para ayudar a lograr la justicia y la paz de Dios?
Durante este Adviento, que cada una de nosotras reconozca que personas en todas partes “… son todas obras de las (tus) manos de Dios” (Isaías 64:7c), y que podamos permitirnos centrarnos y convertirnos en instrumentos de la amorosa presencia de Dios en la Tierra.
Bendiciones de Adviento,
Isaiah’s message in the Advent scripture readings encourages all of us to take time, look around and appreciate what God is doing for people. Isaiah uses images to help us:
• "A green shoot will sprout from Jesse's stump."
• "The wolf will romp with the lamb, the leopard sleep with the kid. Calf and lion will eat from the same trough, and a little child will tend them."
• "Cow and bear will graze the same pasture, their calves and cubs grow up together, and the lion eat straw like the ox."
Things will not be the same once God comes to be with God’s people. While, of course, the people had no idea that God would come in human form.
That is the way of God, to surprise us and to go beyond our imagining. During this Advent, what if you take some quiet time to notice how God has been showing up in your life and in the lives of those around you? You won’t be disappointed.
May you experience all the blessings of this season of anticipating ways God will arrive,
El mensaje de Isaías en las lecturas de las Escrituras de Adviento nos anima a todas a tomarnos un tiempo, mirar a nuestro alrededor y apreciar lo que Dios está haciendo por las personas. Isaías utiliza imágenes para ayudarnos:
• "Un retoño verde brotará del tronco de Isaí".
• "El lobo morará con el cordero, el leopardo se acostará con el cabrito. El becerro y el león comerán del mismo comedero, y un niño los cuidará".
• "La vaca y el oso pacerán en el mismo pasto, sus crías y cachorros crecerán juntos, y el león comerá paja como el buey".
Las cosas no serán las mismas una vez que Dios venga a estar con el pueblo de Dios. Aunque, por supuesto, la gente no tenía idea de que Dios vendría en forma humana.
Esa es la forma de Dios, sorprendernos e ir más allá de nuestra imaginación. Durante este Adviento, ¿qué tal si toma un momento de quietud para notar cómo Dios se ha estado manifestando en su vida y en la vida de quienes la rodean? No será decepcionada.
Que pueda experimentar todas las bendiciones de esta temporada de anticipar las formas en que Dios llegará,
Have you ever noticed that pine cones hold hidden seeds? Each cone, each seed is full of promise for the future, no matter how large or small they are.
The same is also true for each of us. Our lives hold seeds full of promise. They can be hidden so deeply within our longings that we can’t see or recognize them at first. But they are within us.
As we complete this Advent time of waiting, I’d like to invite you to consider attending our March 1-3, 2019, weekend here in Adrian to discern what those hidden desires of your heart are. These are the ones planted by the Spirit and awaiting time for you to ponder them. The gathering will provide time to listen – to yourself and others, to pray and to examine those seeds of God’s calling that want to grow in our lives. What a lovely gift to offer yourself the time to really pay attention. Click here for a detailed description of the upcoming event.
May we celebrate the joyous gift of Jesus’ birth every day,
Mary’s “yes” to the angel when told she was favored and chosen to bear the Son of God, inspires us by its simple consent and its leap of faith into an uncertain future. She knew she couldn’t fully know or understand what she was getting herself into. But Mary placed her trust in God.
None of us when discerning our future path knows for sure that this or that is the right choice for us because there is no way to know the unknown. It really is all about our willingness to trust that God loves us. In our love and trust, when we have done our best to listen to what the Holy Spirit has in mind for our lives, we step onto the path, continuing to trust in God’s love.
In these days of Advent waiting we can allow ourselves a little extra time to be still, to welcome silence into our lives. Silence is God’s best way to communicate. Our listening and really hearing is best done in silence too.
May you be still enough to hear the still, small whispers of God,
To jump start your listening: http://www.adriandominicans.org/BecomeaSister/EnteringtheLife.aspx
With the start of Advent we begin a time of waiting for the coming of Jesus into our daily lives. In a strange way Advent reminds me of flower bulbs. These oddly-shaped forms are planted in the autumn here in the northern hemisphere, come up every spring and then blossom in beauty. Without waiting throughout the winter buried in the darkness under the soil, they wouldn’t be able to blossom. Darkness and waiting are essential to the fulfillment of their purpose.
When we discern what God’s call is for our lives we often do lots of waiting, praying, and listening without knowing just what the answer may be or when it will come to us. Much like the bulbs (were they able to feel) we wait without knowing, sometimes impatiently, until the time is right. We’re not in control, just as the conditions needed for bulbs to grow are not.
During Advent we’re invited to enter into the mystery, the waiting and the right time to receive the guidance we need.
Blessings on your Advent waiting,
In this week between Thanksgiving and Advent, I thought I would share with you part of a Thanksgiving reflection given by our Sister Maria Goretti Browne, OP, that focuses on the sometimes hard work of practicing gratitude. Suffering is an unavoidable part of life and at times we need to lament and share our grief with others and with God. By embracing suffering in this way we can grow in our ability to love life unconditionally.
Sometimes, however, we may choose to intensify the difficulties of life by incessant complaining, stirring up resentments, nursing grudges and basically being a walking wet blanket. There is another more healthy option: gratitude. Research tells us that if we learn how to appreciate life in all its dimensions, we will feel better, be less prone to stress and sickness, sleep better, and live longer and healthier lives.
Sister Maria Goretti challenges us to give thanks in all circumstances of life. She recounts a rather extreme response of giving gratitude in the unbearable circumstances of war. She writes:
I read one time that during the war in Southeast Asia, there was a young Vietnamese boy who would sing as he worked in the rice fields, even as the bombs burst all around him. He explained that he could not stop the war, but he could keep the fear of death from overtaking his heart; he had to fight to be peaceful and happy inside while the horror and sadness of war swirled around him.
Maybe gratitude is an attitude. Most of us take very good care of our bodies, even try to walk – what is it – 10,000 steps? We practice each day, and eventually we will get to the 10,000 number. How about us practicing gratitude – Each day being more grateful than the day before, being more and more conscious of the blessings in our lives. Just look around. Thank God for our vocation, be it religious life, or married life, or single life; we are blessed with wonderful spouses or companions, wonderful co-workers, blessed with beautiful families, blessed with talents too many to enumerate, blessed with the ability to spread God’s love. Everywhere we look we see where we can spread that love and gratitude.
We know the account in Scripture of the three young men who were thrown into a fiery furnace. What’s the first thing they did? They broke into a song of praise and thanksgiving for all that God had made. Theirs was such an attitude of gratitude that their suffering was secondary. They danced among the flames unharmed (Daniel 3).
What about us? Do we find ways to give thanks to God in all circumstances?
The unexpected voice of Advent has the power to set people on a wondrous path of new life. Advent tells the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah, who are childless in their old age but give birth to a son, John, because God fulfills impossible dreams. Mary hears the angel’s voice, “Do not be afraid, O highly favored daughter, you will give birth to the Savior.” She responds wholeheartedly, “Be it done unto me according to your word.” And in a dream the unexpected voice of an angel consoles the brokenhearted Joseph, encouraging him to change his plans and take Mary as his wife. They give birth to a son and they name him “Emmanuel,” meaning God is with us. All of these Advent figures listened and trusted the unexpected voice of God. As a result, their lives, and ours, have been transformed in miraculous ways.
This unexpected voice of God still speaks today in the story of Ted Shawn, a young divinity student who was suddenly stricken with polio. From somewhere deep within him came a most unlikely voice calling him to, of all things, dance. So, with great difficulty, he quit divinity school and began to dance, and slowly and miraculously, he not only regained the use of his legs, but went on to become one of the fathers of modern dance.
This Advent recall a time in your own life when the unexpected voice of God came to you, perhaps in a time of great vulnerability, and showed you the way to new life and happiness. Give thanks to God and ask yourself: Am I still listening?
This week's reflection comes to us from guest blogger, Katherine Frazier, Adrian Dominican Sisters Candidate.
When a very pregnant Mary and Joseph set out on a journey to Bethlehem, they did not know what the journey would hold for them. Taking a journey implies transformation. Not only is there the physical change of being in a new place, but there is also the spiritual changes that take place when we meet new people and see new places. Mary and Joseph were transformed by their journey, as they became a family with a newborn son. Taking a journey also means taking a leap of faith, in allowing ourselves to be open to whatever the journey brings us, no matter how surprising. For Mary and Joseph, they had to take a leap of faith that they and their expected child would be cared for once they arrived in Bethlehem.
This story of Mary and Joseph speaks deeply to my own process of discernment. Certainly, my discernment has taken me to new places, where I have been able to meet many new people. However, more importantly, I am finding that this journey is challenging me to think in new ways, whether in learning how to be a better community member or pondering how God is active in my life. And there is a leap of faith to the discernment process once we embrace our decision, even if the consequences are surprising. Finally, I come back to the fact that Mary was pregnant with the Word of God as she traveled with Joseph to Bethlehem. As a woman discerning a vocation with the Order of Preachers, I see in this image an example of my calling to carry the Word of God to the world, and the image gives me hope that my vocation can be carried out in ways that I have not yet imagined.
This week's reflection comes to us from guest blogger, Sister Dot Dempsey, OP, in Chicago. Sister Dot serves on our Vocation Outreach Awareness Team.
So much is happening as we celebrate St. Andrew the Apostle, this 1st Week of Advent and at the beginning of the Dominican Family’s 800th Jubilee! So much to think about, celebrate and thank God for.
Jesus said to Simon and Andrew, “come after me.” We too have been called to the Order of Preachers. The motto for our 800th Jubilee is “Go and Preach.” Jesus sent the Apostles and we too were sent by Saint Dominic to find new ways of preaching.
As we begin this liturgical year, in this jubilee year, we invite you to “come and see”, to share the joy in following Jesus. We want to open our hearts and open doors, as we praise, bless, and preach the good news.
This week's reflection comes to us from guest blogger, Sister Dusty Farnan, OP.
I’m writing this reflection on the eve of Advent. Advent invites us into two important actions: to be alert and to be awake. What does any of this have to do with me or especially those of you who are pondering what path to take in life. Maybe you are wondering like Elizabeth how is it that the “Lord should come to me?"
I think it has a lot to do with you and me. Luke’s Gospel for the Last Sunday in Advent reminds me of when I felt the call from God to pursue religious life. I believe I felt like Elizabeth when Mary visited her. I had just witnessed the beautiful reception of a classmate of mind from high school who had become a Novice in Adrian Dominican Congregation. I was so moved by the ceremony and the giving of total self that my friend had made that it stuck with me for a long time. It was as if Jesus” leaped inside me” in a way I had never experienced before. I became alert and aware that Jesus was calling me to follow him more closely. And so I wrote to the Prioress of the congregation asking for admission. It’s now fifty years later.
Perhaps this advent you might be awakened to God’s voice calling you to a deeper relationship. May Advent awaken you to the God life already dwelling in you as a result of your Baptism. May you become more alert to the prompting of God’s call to you this Christmas season.
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