by Deacon Jacob Skogen
Monday, November 29, 2021
We have just begun the season of Advent, a tradition that goes back to the time of the Fourth Century. The word advent comes from the Latin “Adventus” which means “to come”. “Come Lord Jesus,” the Advent mantra, means that all of Christian history has to live out of a kind of deliberate emptiness, a kind of chosen non-fulfillment. Perfect fullness is always to come, and we do not need to demand it now. This keeps the field of life wide open to grace and to a future created by God rather than ourselves.
This is exactly what it means to be “awake,” as the Gospel urges us! We can also use other a words for Advent: aware, alive, attentive, alert, and awake are all appropriate! Advent is above all else, a call to full consciousness and a forewarning about the high price of consciousness. When we demand satisfaction of one another, when we demand any completion to history on our terms, when we demand that our anxiety or any dissatisfaction be taken away, saying as it were, “Why weren’t you this for me?
Why didn’t life do that for me?” We are refusing to say, “Come Lord Jesus.” We are refusing to hold out, to wait for, the full picture that is always and only given by God.
“Come, Lord Jesus” is a leap into the kind of freedom and surrender that is rightly called the virtue of hope.
The theological virtue of hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our Satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves. We are able to trust that he will come again, just as Jesus has come into our past, into our private dilemmas and into our suffering world. Our Christian past then becomes our Christian prologue, and “Come, Lord Jesus” is not a cry of desperation but an assured shout of cosmic hope.
Even so, Come Quickly Lord Jesus!
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
By Deacon Jacob Skogen
Monday, December 5, 2021
The second Sunday of Advent has traditionally focused on peace. Today we remember the person and the work of John the Baptist, who has been called the Master of Descent. John the Baptizer is the strangest combination of conviction and humility, morality and mysticism, radical prophecy and living in the present. This son of the priestly temple class does his own thing down by the riverside; he is a man born into privilege who dresses like a hippie; he is a superstar who is willing to let go of everything. He is a living paradox, as even Jesus says of him: “There is no man greater than John…but he is also the least” in the new reality that Christ is bringing about, Matthew 11:11.
His life is brilliantly a spirituality, a lifestyle of descent, not ascent. “He must grow bigger, I must grow smaller.” This is peace. That we decrease and He increases. That we empty ourselves that He may fill us up. Even as John was willing to let go of his own ego, his own message and even his own life, we seek this kind of piece. Such emptiness does not fall in our laps, such humility doesn’t just happen. Such peace is not microwaveable. It is the end product of a thousand letting-goes and a thousand acts of devotion.
And now “may the peace of God, which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7) during this Advent Season.
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
By Deacon Jacob Skogen
Monday, December 13, 2021
The third Sunday of Advent has been associated with the word Joy. The colors of this past Sunday were rose because it was on the third Sunday of Advent that the traditional “Advent Fast” was ended, in anticipation of the great event, yet to come - the coming of the Savior and Redeemer.
It is safe to say that there is confusion about what is needed for life and what is really important for life. The vast majority of American stores seem to be selling wants not needs. Many of the things we formerly called wants, have now been upgraded to so called “necessities.” We cannot feel good about ourselves unless our vacation is more luxurious than last years, the clothes, the house, and the phone are all upgraded. It seems safe to say that we say we want happiness, when what we need is joy.
While we chase and replace this or that, thinking to have come upon happiness, we find ourselves still empty, if not emptier. We have become human doings more than human beings.
The Gospel offers living water, bread from heaven, the word of truth: in a word, joy. The Good news that Christ has come, Christ has died, Christ is Risen, and Christ is coming again, allows us to enter into a state of rest. A state of being. He is our Joy, and He is Emmanuel. God with us.
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.