Advent

Reflection for the second week of Advent

Sunday, December 10, 2017

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In the Meantime

There was a post on Facebook commemorating a person who recently died. It read simply: “Born 1932. Died 2017. In between, amazing human being.” It was a very simple way to sum up the life of the person. The sentiment it represents is echoed to some extent in the exhortation in the Second Letter of Peter, one of the readings for the Second Sunday of Advent. Peter writes, “ … what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God!”

Peter reflects the early church’s belief that the end time was not far off, and that believers should be faithful at every moment, ready to welcome the Lord in his second coming at any time. He suggests that we may indeed have a part in bringing about the second coming by living lives of holiness, as he writes, “ … he shows you generous patience, since he wants none to perish but all to come to repentance.” In other words, God is willing to wait until we are ready to accept and love Him as He has already accepted and loved us.

Advent is considered a time of waiting for the Lord to appear in our lives. In this view, it is we who do the waiting. But if we reflect carefully on these words of Peter, perhaps we should turn that around and reflect on the possibility that it is God who is waiting for us.

In reality, there is no waiting for God, for God has already given us the gift of his son Jesus, who lived among us, died at our hands and rose again to reveal for us the promise of eternal life. This is the core belief of Christians. In a sense, the ball is now in our court to plumb the depths of that mystery; to understand what difference it can make in our lives. God is waiting for us.

If we take this view, Advent becomes a time for us to reflect more deeply on the shape of our “in between” time.

How does the conduct of our health ministry reflect God’s reign to those we serve beyond the day-to-day business concerns we must address?

What difference does it make to our manner of conducting the business of health care when we think of our work as hastening God’s reign?

More personally, if I am willing to accept that God is waiting for me, how does that change the priorities of my “in between” time here and now?

 

Copyright 2017 Catholic Health Association of the United States. Reposted with permission

 

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Reflection for first week of Advent

Sunday, December 3, 2017

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By Turning, Turning, We Come ‘Round Right

Most of us are aware that as we begin this season of Advent, we begin a new year, a new cycle in our liturgical observance. We begin to tell the story of God’s action in our history by turning back to promises of old, promises fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.

This new cycle is one of many we experience in the course of our lives – new calendar years, new academic years, new budget years, new years marked by birthdays and anniversaries. Each of these cycles causes us to look back as well as forward. Back to assess where we have been, to understand the meaning of our life experiences. And forward with hope that our past learning will enable us to grow into more faithful people. It was perhaps this wisdom that caused the ancient Romans to invoke their god Janus, depicted with two faces, one facing forward, the other back, at times of transitions and new beginnings.

The scripture selection for the first Sunday of Advent, from the prophet Isaiah, recognizes a need for something new. The prophet sees that things are not as they should be. God appears to be distant and people have chosen a path for themselves that is not life giving. “Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways!” Isaiah exclaims. He sees himself on the threshold of new possibilities.

Let us put ourselves in Isaiah’s place for a moment. Where is the tension in our lives right now that fuels a need for change? Is it in our health ministry, our work place, our personal lives? Does this tension place us on the threshold of something new? Do we risk falling backward by not embracing this moment? Can we cross this threshold with the confidence expressed by Isaiah as he wrote, “No ear has ever heard, no eye has ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.”

The old Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” offers a clue and hope that if we just make the first move and continue to move with confidence, we will end up in the place we ought to be.

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,               

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

 

(c) Catholic Health Association USA. The 2017 Advent and Christmas reflection series was authored by Brian Yanofchick, who served as senior vice president of mission integration for KentuckyOne Health, part of Catholic Health Initiatives, from August 2012 until June 2017. Prior to joining KentuckyOne, he served as senior director for mission integration and leadership development with the Catholic Health Association of the United States in St. Louis beginning in 2006. Before joining CHA, he held executive/senior level roles with Bon Secours Hampton Roads Health System in Suffolk, Va., and Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center in Norfolk, Va., from 1997-2006. He holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., a master’s degree in theology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and a master’s degree in business administration from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
 

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Reflection for the fourth week of Advent: Protectors and teachers of the young

Sunday, December 18, 2016

(This reflection is reposted from Catholic Health Association.) As we mark the fourth week of Advent, while the world goes about preparing to celebrate Christmas, let’s take some time to consider the children in our communities and around the globe who can only hope to have a home, to live and be healthy. Let’s also [more…]

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Reflection for the third week of Advent: Caring for the next generation

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Midway in Life’s Journey: Caring for the Next Generation
(This reflection is reposted from Catholic Health Association.)The cycle of the liturgical year begins as all long journeys begin, with fear, dread and hope in the discoveries to come. It is the third week of Advent, and we are mid-way in our journey toward the joy [more…]

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Advent reflection: hope fulfilled

Sunday, December 20, 2015

“O Radiant Dawn, come and shine on those who dwell in the darkness of the shadow of death.” O Antiphon – December 21

Have you ever been told not to get your hopes too high? The kind admonisher is trying to protect you. But you, like all human beings, still hope for everything, no matter the odds!
What [more…]

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Advent reflection: finding joy

Monday, December 14, 2015

“The Lord, your God … will rejoice over you with gladness.” Zephaniah 3:17
Is there a difference between happiness and joy? Walking through the Med-Surg area, the chaplain juggled that question. He had just left Betty whose test results had proven benign. Her reaction still echoed in his mind. Like someone waking from a bad dream, she [more…]

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Advent reflection: A channel for holiness

Sunday, December 6, 2015

“From you rose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God.” Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe – Lectionary: 690A
There are a few places where nature offers an experience of darkness so absolute it can be terrifying. Assateague Island lies along the barrier coast of Virginia. On a winter night, darkness there feels complete, enveloping. As evening [more…]

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Advent reflection: Transforming humanness into glory

Sunday, November 29, 2015

“On that day, the Lord will bind up the wounds of his people.” Isaiah 30:26
Christine is a beautiful woman, inside and out. She is as vital as fresh air or summer sun. She is successful, strong, sincere and faith-filled. But her heart is a fragile, hidden glass, ready to break at any moment, from a family member’s [more…]

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Spirituality and You: Beginning Advent

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sister Valerie Sweeney reminds us that this week we begin the season of ADVENT. The word Advent derives from the Latin word meaning COMING. The Lord is coming. It is a time of expectancy and joyful anticipation for the feast of Christmas. During Advent Christians recall the history of God’s people, and reflect on how [more…]

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