The Church has begun its new liturgical year with the haunting strains of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. The One who is Emmanuel—God-with-us—breaks through the prisons in which people had been confined by the experience and expectations of millennia of history. Yet this Jesus who is the key of all of history and the One who alone can make sense of our chaotic hearts was born in the dark of night to parents whose lives had been upended by a royal census. The shivering Babe was noticed only by sleepy shepherds and three wise men who found him inadvertently after stumbling into Herod’s palace for information about the star that had led them to Bethlehem.
I am doing something new….
As I leave my parents’ home to return to the new community to which I have been transferred, I too feel small. Yet Jesus said to me, “Do not allow the past to circumscribe the future I will create for you.” As we stand at the threshold of a new Advent, a new Christmas celebration, and the New Year 2022, these are words that the Christ Child says to all of us.
The Lord shakes us awake with similar words that he had once spoken through his prophet Isaiah. As I read them I think of the excitement of children on Christmas morning as they wake up and race to the Christmas tree to see if Santa has been to their house. How much more eager, I say to myself, should my heart be to see the fulfillment of these promises of the Lord in me, in us, in the world today.
I am doing something brand new, something unheard of.
Even now it sprouts and grows and matures.
Don’t you perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and open up flowing streams in the desert.
Wild beasts, jackals, and owls will glorify me.
For I supply streams of water in the desert
and rivers in the wilderness
to satisfy the thirst of my people, my chosen ones,
so that you, whom I have shaped and formed for myself,
will proclaim my praise (Isaiah 43:19-21 TPT).
“Do not allow the past to circumscribe the future I will create for you.”
As I begin to allow God to do something brand new, I start each day with the expectation that events will unfold that only God can account for.
As I begin to expect God to do something brand new in my life, I feel less overworked and overwhelmed by the constant influx of bad news and fear-engendering headlines.
As I begin to expect God to do something new in the world, I find myself praising and thanking God throughout the day for—and sometimes despite—whatever happens.
As I begin to expect God to do something new in history, I am more confident that I can make a real difference and look around to see how I can serve and love.
As I begin to expect God to do something new, I close my eyes, know I’m protected, and exchange the hypervigilance created by screaming headlines for a constant affective gaze that rests with confidence on the face of the One who is God-with-us.
I wish you all a Blessed beginning of Advent, praying that you will discover the new things Emmanuel wishes to accomplish for you and through you. May no fear, no memory, no hesitation block the advent of the King! “God called you out of darkness to experience his marvelous light, and now he claims you as his very own. He did this so that you would broadcast his glorious wonders throughout the world” (1 Pt. 2:8 TPT).
Thanks for joining me on the journey,
Sr. Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP
Photo Credit: Eduardo Montivero via Cathopic