It's a true delight to be entering our third Advent together at Saint Mark's - a time that is always ripe with possibility as our latent hopes and expectations take on a more focused disposition of 'wakefulness' and 'watchfulness' - the fine-tuning of our hearts and minds to be ever more attentive to God's in-breaking among us and around us.
While much of the season is carried along by the predictable rhythms and rituals of local culture and custom, we're challenged to be always mindful that local culture and custom are simply the raw material through which God will surprise us, rather than (despite our best efforts) the rigid norms within which we'll ever be able to contain God. It's counter-intuitive, I know, but our regimented pattern of life together is actually intended to increase, rather than decrease, our capacity to welcome God's divine disruption into our lives.
We cultivate sources of stability in our lives in order to better handle life's instability, and we cultivate sources of security in our lives in order to better handle life's inherent risks. It's all about increasing our spiritual resilience: developing the spiritual practices and doing the spiritual work in order to better bear light in darkness and better cling to immortality 'in the time of this mortal life.'
As we enter this holy season together, may you seize upon the yearning within you for a more creative, more transformative, more life-giving relationship with the God who is always knocking at the door of your heart.
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the First Sunday of Advent