December 9: A Gift of Time


Advent Devotion: A Gift of Time

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

As we consider a “world about to turn,” the psalmist’s words of peace and hope are water in our desert – where the destructive forces seem to prevail. We turn to the psalmist, the Bible, to hymns and carols, to acts of generosity. The psalm promises a time when righteousness and peace embrace, when faithfulness will spring up and the land will be restored. The Palestinian-American poet, Naomi Shahab Nye, gives us an image of this generosity among strangers and enemies:

     I refuse to be claimed.
    Your plate is waiting.
    We will snip fresh mint
    Into your tea.

We have waited long for this and we will continue to wait.

Perhaps the psalmist is not speaking only of the future, but of the present moment. Advent is a gift of time, a concentrated invitation to practice the deep truth of our faith: “Where meek hearts will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.” It is easy to be distracted by the business of the end of the term, preparation for the holiday, the heart-breaking headlines.  So it is crucial to practice—not an impossible fantasy of spare time for extra prayers, but simply attention to the present moment. Practice beauty every day—listen to the owl cry before dawn; notice the stars; let your heart leap as the sun turns the yellow and red leaves into blazing lanterns. Look a stranger in the eye. Light a candle. Take a breath. The Beloved “will guide our footsteps upon the path of peace as we recognize with open hearts that You are our peace.” (Psalm 85: 13, Nan Merrill’s translation).

The fullness of the God-head is offered in every person, in every event. “We are already there.” (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Christmas Eve and Other Stories).

Dr. Wendy Farley
Rice Family Chair in Spirituality at SFTS
Director, Program in Christian Spirituality
SFTS Professor of Christian Spirituality