“Do not let me be put to shame …”
Today is Advent. Advent is the start of the Christian calendar. The Christian calendar invites us to do time differently. Instead of seasons or seconds determining our time, Advent calls us to re-set our lives to the clock of Jesus’ character of justice, mercy and humility. Advent is the grace-full invitation to start over. To begin again, to prepare for Jesus’ coming. Jesus’ coming is the coming of love and truth in the flesh.
Advent asks each of us: How do we prepare for the coming of love and truth in our lives and world?
Here is a prayer and poem to help us wrestle with this Advent question…
“We carry old secrets too painful to utter,
too shameful to acknowledge,
too burdensome to bear,
of failures we cannot undo,
of alienations we regret but cannot fix,
of grandiose exhibits we cannot curb.
And you know them.
You know them all.
And so we take a deep sigh in your presence,
no longer needing to pretend and
cover up and
We mostly do not have big sins to confess,
only modest shames that do not
fit our hoped-for selves.
And then we find that your knowing is more
powerful than our secrets.
You know and do not turn away,
and our secrets that seemed too powerful
are emptied of strength,
secrets that seemed too burdensome
are now less severe.
We marvel that when you find us out
you stay with us,
taking us seriously,
taking our secrets soberly,
but not ultimately,
overpowering our little failure
with your massive love
and abiding patience.
We long to be fully, honestly
exposed to your gaze of gentleness.
In the moment of your knowing
we are eased and lightened,
and we feel the surge of joy move in our bodies,
because we are not ours in cringing
but yours in communion.
We are yours and find the truth before you
makes us free for
wonder, love, and praise—and new life.”
– Walter Brueggemann, Prayers for a Privileged People
“Go gently today, don’t hurry
or think about the next thing. Walk
with the quiet trees, can you believe
how brave they are—how kind? Model your life
after theirs. Blow kisses
at yourself in the mirror
you think you’ve messed up. Forgive
yourself for not meeting your unreasonable
expectations. You are human, not
God—don’t be so arrogant.
Praise fresh air
clean water, good dogs. Spin
something from joy. Open
a window, even if
it’s cold outside. Sit. Close
your eyes. Breathe. Allow
of it all to pulse
fingertips, bare toes. Breathe in
breathe out. Breathe until
your bigness, until the sun
rises in your veins. Breathe
until you stop needing
to be different.”
– Julia Fehrenbacher