Living in community provides a rich opportunity to put Christ at the center of your life. I remember conversations and prayers with my community members causing me to see certain situations in a new light. Sometimes there were stressful moments at work when I would take a deep breath and re-frame my thinking in a more spiritual way. Other times, I would come home upset and one of my community members would offer a new way of looking at things and offer a suggestion for the next day. That shared reflection was a crucial part of my experience, allowing me to grow spiritually and recognize God’s presence in new ways.
The first reading today calls us to give comfort to God’s people and prepare the way for the Lord. I must admit, my first glance left me feeling uneasy. This advent marks two years since my return from Peru, and regrettably I seem to have lost my sense of urgency. I wonder how many AV alumni have returned from full time service and faced a similar experience. The second reading is of some reassurance, reminding us that God is patient and wishes the best for us. But the fact remains that the clock is ticking.
In light of this reminder, I propose the following:
Current AV’s: Take advantage of all you have been given. Trust your community members and challenge one another in specific ways to live in a more purposeful, Christian way. Re-evaluate what simple living means or discuss how your ideas of solidarity have progressed or changed throughout the year. Set personal goals for prayer and how you interact with others. Your time as AV’s will move quickly, so I encourage you to take advantage of one of your greatest resources- each other.
AV Alumni: Don’t forget to reflect upon how your AV experiences have changed and shaped your perspective. Identify which forces in your life are motivating you to live as the Gospel demands, prioritize those influences, and seek out new ways to challenge and motivate yourself. Reach out to a community member to share your thoughts and perhaps challenge each other to set new spiritual goals.
Regardless of your situation, I invite each of you to consider the following passage as a challenge:
A voice cries out:In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!Every valley shall be filled in,every mountain and hill shall be made low;the rugged land shall be made a plain,the rough country, a broad valley.Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,and all people shall see it together;for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
God can be found and glorified in any situation. Is there an area of your life where you might reach out to another in need? Have you tried to rely only on yourself in difficult situations? Take a moment to envision the whole world preparing for the coming of the Lord. What is your role going to be?
Volunteers, especially those living in community, are blessed with constant reminders of the need for prayer, compassion, and acts of service. It takes patience and persistence to respond to those needs, but support systems make it possible. Advent is a special time of preparation to reflect on the fundamentals of our faith. It is through our care and concern for others that we may begin to prepare ourselves. May we all experience a blessed Advent and hold onto or recapture a faithful sense of urgency for Christ.
AV Alum, Peru 2009