Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent: A Time to Dwell Secure




In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;

Think of all the things that we do to try and have security.  You probably all locked your car doors before you came in to Church.  You may have a security system that beeps for you and goes off if someone tries to open it.  How about your homes?  Are your houses secure?  Do you have security systems?  Do you lock up your house when you leave?
Now think of your money.  What are all the way that you keep that safe?  Do you put it in a safe?  Do you keep it in the bank?  If so you probably have a money card with a Security Pin. 


What about Social Security?  We all know that probably isn’t going to save us in the end.  Maybe you’ve invested in a 401k or retirement plan, you’ve insured your car, your health, your wealth, your life... but in an instant it can all be gone.   Secure transaction, Secure browser, secure website, secure password... I thought I’ve always used Secure payment but I noticed a few months ago that someone gained access to some of my information and somehow ordered with my Credit Card on Wal-Mart online.  Thankfully I checked my email!   The truth is in this world we are never secure.  You can put all the alarms you want on your car, but someone can still throw a brick through the window and break into it.  You can lock your house and have the best Security System with Surveillance cameras, but someone could still get in and out before the police come.    


There really is no absolute security that we can provide for ourselves.  Jesus ultimately shows us that in this world there will be no security... if the Son of God can’t or doesn’t save His own life in this world how can we ever expect to.  
Jesus warns us that:

Think of Hurricane Sandy that devastated so many on the East Coast.  “More than 230,000 New York storm victims have applied for housing help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the feds have approved $664 million. But untold numbers haven’t been so lucky, rejected by FEMA for a host of reasons that range from the ridiculous to the confounding.” (NY Daily News)

We do not have security in this life.  But look at all of the time, energy, resources, and money that we invest in trying to secure our lives on earth... and the truth is we can’t.  But, we do have security in heaven.  Jesus promises that if we come to Him we will find life in abundance.  God, The Father, holds us in the palm of his hand.

From the very beginning God has provided security for us.  Think of Genesis and the creation account where out of Chaos God created the Universe, the heavens and the earth were a formless wasteland and God created a Garden, a safe haven for Adam and Eve where they dwelt securely.  He gave them one warning to remain in safety and they chose chaos.  They tried to become like the gods and provide their own security.   They chose chaos over God’s security.  They chose to try and provide for themselves instead of trusting what God had provided them with.  

We do this too.  Every time we sin.  Every time we go against God’s commands, order, and will... we are trying to provide for our own security at the cost of our relationship with God.  We too are choosing chaos over peace.  

Advent is supposed to be a Season of Peaceful waiting.   But think about how we spend most of our Advent... It is a month before Christmas after all and we sure have a lot to do.  What seems to be the most important?  Shopping!  We absolutely must have the perfect gift for all of the people in our lives... The anxiety begins with Black Friday... and we have obviously been so itchy for Black Friday that it has advanced it’s way into Thanksgiving.  So yes now the stores have to be open at 9pm on Thanksgiving because we can’t even wait for Black Friday to begin the craziness.  

Think of the stress of all of the shopping, lines, hassles, stress.  And then on top of that all of the “Christmas” parties and events that we feel we have to be at.  I know from now until Christmas I don’t have a free evening in my schedule.  I’m sure your’s is the same.  We try to do it all, fit it all in, be at everything, run from place to place and house to house and store to store... for what?  Does it bring us the Peace that Advent is supposed to bring?  

Jesus warns again:  

"Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and xieties of daily life,

“Do not let your hearts become drowsy...”  Ultimately from anxiety... because this anxiety if we don’t manage it will lead to finding ways to numb it “carousing and drunkenness.”  And though we can numb it, we aren’t ultimately at peace.  We are full with food and drink and parties... but we aren’t fulfilled.  It doesn’t bring peace to our anxiety.  

We all probably struggle with some form of worry or anxiety... we all probably feel our own insecurities... that we are never enough, never able to do enough, or get enough or be enough.  We cannot provide our own security and we will never bring ourselves to peace by falling into the trap of the “anxieties of daily life.”  

So how do we find peace?  How do we find Security?  How do we stay alert?  

Ultimately that is what this Season of Advent is for.  It is intended to be a time of “Retreat” for the Church.  These four weeks of Advent, rather than a time of anxiety, are intended to be a time of great Peace... We can learn to be at Peace with our waiting, rather than anxiously trying to provide our own security.  


I, myself, just like many others, I’m sure, fall into this trap of becoming too ‘busy’, overbooked, preoccupied, stressed and anxious.  Just this weekend I had our Freshman Retreat.  I really try to be there all weekend long for the teens, and the team, and the youth minister.  However, I lost control of my schedule and before I knew it I had first grade confessions all Saturday morning (which were great by the way), the Vigil Mass at Nativity, Confessions in the evening, late night Pizza with the teens, the early mass at St. Joseph, the next Mass at Nativity, and then back at St. Joseph for our Advent Mission by Fr. Cole.  I was double booked almost the entire weekend and running back and forth from place to place.  I was anxious and worried even though I knew it would all turn out alright.  

I knew I was going to be exhausted, I wanted to get sleep, but my mind was racing about all of the different things going on and how I could be prepared for them and had I missed anything.  I remembered my mother had sent me an email about sleeping.  So I decided to search my Gmail and came up with it.  



Turns out it was from Dr. Phil... no actually I just noticed it is Dr. OZ!  

So here it is:  Now as you read this I want you to try and picture laying like this.  It’s pretty funny actually!  

The Sleep Power Position

“The position you sleep in can greatly improve your quality of life if you rest.  One Specialist recommends lying on your chest with your head on a pillow, turned to the right.  (OK I can do this so far).  Place both arms straight by your sides, palms up.  (Hmmm palms up, How is that going to work)  Then bring your right arm up until the top of your right elbow is bent 90 degrees (Ok 90 degrees this is getting complicated, I think I have it) and your hand is close to your head (Ok so really not 90 degrees must be more like a triangle?  Right?  I don’t know?).  Then bring your right knee out to the side (wait a minute I’m lying on my chest how is this possible?  Do they really mean knee?  Should I just turn it or do I have to bend my whole leg?  Well let’s try)  until it is bent at approximately 90 degrees (What?  Bend my legs now 90 degrees while lying on my chest?  Is this possible?  Ok you try this and see if it is possible... I felt ridiculous!). By keeping both your arm and leg at 90 degrees you’ll distribute your weight more evenly so that you’re not putting any pressure on your shoulder or on your hip. This position mimics a swaddled baby, which means you’ll move and fidget less and enjoy a deeper, uninterrupted sleep.”  (DrOz.com)

I Was seeking security… don’t we all desire that security?  Don’t we all want to dwell safety in God?  

I’m reminded of a moment I had at my parents house last Sunday.  My nephew Aiden is 7 months old now and he’s getting past that infancy stage.  He is crawling all over the place and beginning to walk with the assistance of what I can only refer to as “a toddler walker”.  Aiden is all over the place now and doesn’t just like to sit in your lap and be held anymore.  My sister, Sheri, wanted a break to get ready and I got to watch him for a couple of hours.  It was exhausting.  He crawled, and played, and fussed, and cried, and it wasn’t until moments before she was ready to leave that I finally got him calm.  

I layed him on my chest and rocked him in the chair and sang in his ear until... he laid on my chest and started to sleep.  

And wouldn’t you know it “his head was on my chest turned to the right, both of his arms were bent up at a 90 degree angle with his hands near his head, his legs were bent and tucked around me up at 90 degree angles and he went to sleep!   

Wouldn’t it be nice to actually let God hold us like a baby and calm our anxieties?  

The good news is that while we can’t secure ourselves here in this world, we are secure in Everlasting Life.  God can hold us if we stop trying to provide for ourselves.  

Advent is a time to invite God into our insecurity and to make us secure in Him.  Jesus was born into a very insecure world but it never interfered with His Security In the Father.   He knew in the depths of his heart and soul that he truly was God’s “Beloved Son.”  It was this awareness and reality that allowed him to say and mean, even in His Agony, “Abba, Father, not my will, but yours.”  

God holds us like that child, like my nephew on my chest, we are secure… we are held by God…

This Advent, as we prepare for Christmas, take note of this security and notice all the things that tend to pull us away from that Security… think of the Gospel where Jesus warns that the anxieties of daily life can pull us away.

One of the biggest anxieties now is preparing for Christmas, shopping, decorating, cooking making sure we have everything right?  Why?  Do we have the focus right?  Are we looking for security by getting the best gifts, the best deals, by not missing out on a party or an event and in the meantime we are neglecting the people, the person really who is most important for us.  

Jesus is the King of King’s and Prince of Peace… We’d be far better during this Advent Season if we missed out on some things and spent some time in prayer, reflection, retreat, and silence.

Really, I encourage you to let this be a time of retreat for you.  You have my permission, the Church’s permission, and ultimately God’s permission to let go of anything that causes you anxiety... you are far better off spending time with leisure, prayer, time with a good friend, doing something you enjoy, and retreating from the the anxieties of daily life.  

Ultimately we seek security… realize that it can’t be found in this world, but we can find it in the next… invest in the security of everlasting life.  The best way to do that is really to celebrate Advent the way in which the Church intends.  By making these next four weeks a prayerful, graceful, and peaceful time we will be much more prepared for Christmas than by doing any or all of the other things.  

Advent is a time to prepare our hearts and our lives for the Security that only God can provide.  Our security is ultimately in heaven, and not of this world.  This Advent, put away all anxieties and really make time for the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace to enter your heart and your life.  Let yourself be held and cradled by God so that you can experience all of the peace, safety and security that we all long for.  

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