An Advent Prayer


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.