ADVENT REFLECTION 2014 Week 3: Joyful expectation

Week 3: Joyful expectation

I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God. Isaiah 61:10
There stands among you, unknown to you, the one who is coming after me. John 1:26-27

The mood for the third week of Advent changes to one of joyful expectation as we reach the half way stage in our preparation. Known as Gaudete Sunday (Latin for Rejoice), its jubilant theme is echoed in the pink priestly vestments. Here is an opportunity to focus on all that is good in our lives and to give heartfelt thanks.

Lord, there is so much bad news in our world: famine; war; natural disasters; cruelty; prejudice; self-interest. And yet there is also much good: love; concern; solidarity; small, unseen acts of kindness.

For the times I have focused only on the bad and failed to see the good, I ask your forgiveness.

For the times I have looked the other way because I was embarrassed and didn’t know how to reach out to those in need, I ask your forgiveness.

For the times I meant to do something, got distracted and forgot my good intentions, I ask your forgiveness.

John the Baptist was the herald of the Good News, and yet he was ignored or reviled by many.

• Who are the prophets of our time?
• Do I listen to their voices and acknowledge the truth they speak?
• Am I sometimes swayed or distracted by false prophets?
• Do I recognize Jesus in our midst?
• Do I see him in the stranger and the outcast, the poor and the lowly?

Our modern world is so immediate that we seem to have lost the joy of waiting patiently for an eagerly anticipated event. The build-up to Christmas can be so frenetic that it’s easy to lose sight of its true meaning. Frenzied preparations can cause us to become stressed and irritable. It’s great to buy gifts for our loved ones, but do we need to spend so extravagantly?

• How can I prepare well for the Christmas celebration?
• Can I slow down and make space to sit quietly in the presence of God?
• Do I take time to wonder at the beauty of creation? How can I live more simply and sustainably for the good of all?
• Do I fully appreciate all that is good in my life?

• Try not to buy new items-reuse or adapt what you have.
• Join a local community action group or the LETS scheme (Local Exchange Trading Schemes) to swop skills and resources.
• Look for a ‘good news’ story in your local newspaper and share it with others.