Advent: Hope

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Matthew 26: 36 – 44

This year I am following the Revised Common Lectionary’s Year A Advent readings. I also want to point out that I will be focusing this year entirely on the Gospel reading selections, unconventional to some, but you’ll get a lot of Isaiah in your churches, or in other places. You too can follow along here.

Past Hope: “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Even though this passage reminds me more of Easter, what comes to mind is the Christmas Relient K song, I Celebrate the Day. It ends with the lyrics, “I celebrate the day, that you were born to die, so I could one day pray for You to save my life.” This time of year for me is usually one of reflection. One thing that comes to mind is, this year people will spend millions of dollars on holiday decorations and presents that will fade to dust over time, at the same time ignoring the true gift of the Ages.

So as I sit back and think about all the times where I stumbled because, “the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” I know I will count myself among them. There are so many things that I do, not because I want to, but because of my weak flesh. My hope is that through the rest of this year (and carried into the next), that I become an empty vessel for the Lord. After all, I am capable of nothing good, and all good I do, comes from Him.

Current Hope: For a long time, I used just sit, and wait to hear from God.

I thought that if I were doing everything “right” then whatever I was working on, or working toward would be in some way affirmed by the Great Beyond. At least, that is the impression I had as a young-ling. That view was always affirmed by the above selection in Matthew. The idea that Jesus was on the right path, hence why God chose to remain silent during this intense time of prayer. I never realized how transnational my approach to God was until the past few years. So I have started to grow fonder of the silence.

Over the past few weeks life has been chaotic, and the times I have felt most comforted has been in the silence. Whether with my wife, or at a pub with a friend, the silence has been the most peaceful. I realize to contrast what has been going on personally with the Gethsemane narrative is quite the stretch, which is why I’m not doing that. Personally, I like that this passage is included in the advent readings, when I think about the days leading up to Christmas, while chaotic at times, are mostly filled with silence. Due to my wife’s work schedule I find myself at home in the evenings by myself every now and again, so I turn on the Christmas tree lights and write. Sometimes I’ll put music on but, in that silence I find anticipation. The hope that in this stillness all things will be well.

During this first week of advent, may you experience hope in the silence.

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