By Sister Ruth Ksycki, OSB
Watch! Wait! Be Alert! Be Awake! are the words that usher in Advent. The gospel of Mark (13:33-37) uses the image of the gatekeeper being on watch for the master’s return. What does it mean for us to once again watch, wait, be alert and awake for the Incarnation – God made flesh and Emmanuel – God with us?
As I pondered this, I thought about the gatekeeper who is always looking and scanning the horizon day and night for signs. At an Advent prayer service last week, Pastor Richard Prigge of Augustana College spoke of Advent as a time to look for signs of promise and hope within ourselves, our families, our nation, and our world. I would also add signs of love.
If we listen to the news, and it is possible to do so 24 hours a day, we observe scenes and stories of violence, death, and revenge often engendered by fear and distrust. Are we willing this Advent to look instead for positive signs of promise, hope, and love?
Can we color the world of our thoughts, prayers and actions by observing: Signs of promise – spiritual growth in ourselves and others? Signs of hope – those beginning to arise from grief or recovery from addiction? Signs of love – reconciliation between friends or listening to others whose ideas are different from ours?
If we are vigilant gatekeepers, we will stand in awe and gratefulness observing, experiencing and seeing such wonderful and often small signs of promise, hope and love. Our hearts will be filled with joy.
I have already heard about one of these signs. Two women were at odds and spoke harsh words to each other. One shared this with her friends who said that they would pray that she would know what to do. After praying she spoke to her “enemy” and said “I’m sorry.” In response the other also said she was sorry. The encounter lifted a great burden from both of them, and harmony was restored. I listened with awe to this story as a sign of promise, hope and love. It colored my world with joy.
During this Advent may each of you be gatekeepers whose world becomes colored with signs of promise, hope and love that delight your heart. They are truly signs of Incarnation – God made flesh in our world and Emmanuel – God with us.