An Advent Prayer

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diana trautwein -an advent prayer3

Pausing to Say, “Thank You,” and “You’re Welcome!”

We’re halfway there, Lord. Halfway.
We’re walking through this season of waiting we call Advent,
this season filled with songs in a minor key, and we’re grateful for it.

More than many in recent memory, this particular Advent feels
heavy, confusing, and terribly sad.
The world around us is rife with tension,
with pain and loss and too many people living with heartache and fear.
And some of those suffering are friends inside our own circles,
sisters and brothers we know and love.
Some of that heartache and fear is even inside of us.

So these four weeks that we set aside
to wait, to look for your coming,
to remember the story that centers us —
these four weeks are a gift in the midst of all that is not right,
all that still needs the redeeming work of a Savior.

As we move through this time set we’ve set aside to pause,
this time of intentional waiting and wondering, we want it to be a time
of making ready, of being ready.
We want to be ready for that tiny baby,
for that holy family,
for those shepherds and wise men,
for those heavenly singers, the ones that lit up the night sky
with a song of good news!

So, Lord, as we wait together,
this cluster of sisters who live all around this world you’ve created,
will you help us to be on the look-out for that angelic light?
To look for it with hope, and with expectation,
and most of all, with grateful hearts?

Because, Lord — in the midst of the busyness,
the gift-wrapping and the cookie baking,
the family gatherings and the carol-singing,
in the midst of our own personal struggles and worries,
we need you to help us hang onto hope,
and to firmly grab hold of gratitude.

We confess that sometimes we forget.
We forget to say ‘thank you,’
to slow down, to look up, to look around
and tell you and one another
that we are grateful.

We are so very grateful for this story of ours.
We are thankful for its life-changing power,
and we are thankful for its grittiness.
Ours is a story that fairly reeks of real life — life as we know it,
life as we live it,  and as we see it in the world around us:
families living under oppression, poverty,  homelessness,
the murder of innocent children,
an unexpected, even scandalous pregnancy.

And this is the story that you — our Great God, Creator of the Universe —
this is the story that you deliberately chose to step right into.
You chose to experience this life, this human life here on planet earth,
in all its crazy mixed up-ness.

And you chose a girl like Mary,
and a man like Joseph, to be the ones who would help to tell the story.
So we thank you for these good people, these good parents.
And we ask you to open our hearts, settle our minds,
and learn what they have to teach us.

In particular, we want to learn from Mother Mary,
from that wisp of a girl who was braver than she knew,
that girl who was pleasing to you, the one who lay on the straw
and pushed a King out into this world on a dark and lonely night,
far from her home.

Help us to remember that Jesus learned from her, too.
She was his first teacher, after all, the one who helped him to grow up,
the one who walked this earthly road with him, right to the end.
I think she has a lot to teach us.
Will you help us to be good learners this Advent season?
To watch Mary, to wonder at her, to learn to soften our hearts, to open them, even to the totally unexpected? To be willing to catch both the glory and the sorrow that you might see ahead for us? And then, when we see it, will you help us to embrace it like Mary did,
to let go of our fear, to make room for our fierceness,
and to step boldly into a whole new life, whatever it may look like?

So, Lord, help us to walk into Christmas with open hands and open hearts,
to follow Mary’s example, and to let you be born in us, again and again.
“Let it be unto us according to your word.”
Let us be the ones who say, “Welcome, Lord Jesus!
You are so welcome. Come right in, make yourself at home.”
Teach us again how to say and do the best thing, the right thing.
Teach us to say, “Thank you!” And, “You’re welcome.”
For Jesus’ sake.

Amen.

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Diana Trautwein
Married to her college sweetheart for over 40 years, Diana is always wondering about things. She answers to Mom from their three adult kids and spouses and to Nana from their 8 grandkids, ranging in age from 3 to 22. For 17 years, after a mid-life call to ministry, she answered to Pastor Diana in two churches where she served as Associate Pastor. Since retiring at the end of 2010, she spends her time working as a spiritual director and writes on her blog, Just Wondering. For as long as she can remember, Jesus has been central to her story and the church an extension of her family. Not that either church or family is exactly perfect . . . but then, that’s what makes life interesting, right?
Diana Trautwein

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Comments

  1. Jody Ohlsen Collins says:

    beautiful, heartachingly beautiful and too close to home…. May God be with us all and the Holy Spirit remind us to keep looking up.

    • Thank you, Jody. This has been a rugged year in so many ways. As always, we need Advent, don’t we? We need to remember that God comes to us, right in the middle of the mess.

  2. Lynn Morrissey says:

    Oh I needed this beautiful reminder, Diane, to say thank you. It is such a sad world right now, and I feel bordering despair at times, mostly for the Church, because I know that the Church as the only answer–the Advent answer, the Christmas answer, the Easter answer, the resurrection answer, the JESUS ANSWER. And yet, as Christians, we are torn apart through our bickering and duplicity, and the world is watching. Why would they want the hope we offer, when we don’t live it, when it doesn’t even seem to make a difference in how we treat each other?! But your reminder to say thank you gives me hope, because if I say thank you, then it is for something and to someone, and you and I know the Someone is Christ, and the something is pardon, reconciliation, abundant and eternal life. Wow. What great and underserved gifts. And when you said, “this is the story that you deliberately chose to step right into,” I am also reminded that He chose to put you and me, and all those contemporary to us, right here, right now in this place and time. So when I fear or lament, I have to remember He could have chosen to bring us into being at any place and at any time. But He didn’t. Because He is good and because He is sovereign, I must trust that we are right where we need to be and ask Him how we can redeem the time and situations for His glory and purposes. Yes, oh yes, may we parrot the young Mary’s words, wise beyond her years: “Let it be unto us according to your word.”
    Merry Christmas, dear Diana, and as you continue to miss your mama, may the Lord remind you that she lives with Him beyond strife.
    Love
    Lynn

    • pastordt says:

      Thank you for these lovely words of encouragement, affirmation and challenge, dear Lynn. May you have a blessed Christmas, friend!

  3. sandyhay says:

    I have a big smile when I read that the “Advent Prayer” was written by you. I will print this and place it with my morning advent devotionals. These words ring so true and deep. Thank you Diana 🙂

    • pastordt says:

      I’m glad my name made you smile, Sandy! Thank you for these kind words — and have a beautiful Christmas!

  4. What a beautiful reflection for this time of year, especially in this doozy of a year! May each of us find that we are braver than we knew as we seek to be faithful to the one we follow.

    • pastordt says:

      It has been a doozy, hasn’t it?? And your prayer is mine as well — may we all be braver than we know. Merry Christmas, Beth!

  5. This has been a strange season, but I’m wondering if that doesn’t heighten my appreciation for the strange way in which God chose to rescue us. I certainly would not have cobbled together the Christmas story out of my own imagination (too unlikely!) and there are many things about our own 2017 stories that we could not have imagined either. Thank you for words that invited me to echo Mary’s trusting acceptance of the script God had written for her, however unlikely.

    • pastordt says:

      I think you’re spot on with that observation, Michele. This hard, mixed up, scary year in some strange way makes us . . . what is the word? . . . ripe for Advent. I find it a welcome space and a welcoming one, too. May your Christmas celebrations be blessed in many ways, friend. Thanks for your faithful reading and commenting.

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