1st Sunday of Advent; Noah (not the ark)

1st Sunday of Advent

I’d like to start by being the first to wish you “Happy New Year!” Today we begin the season of Advent, the start of the church year. You have new missalettes in the pews. Last weekend we came to the end of the Lectionary, the Sacramentary, and the Book of the Gospels and now we start all over again. In the three-year cycle of readings, Year B is over and today we begin Year C. The green vestments and church decorations have been put away and replaced with the purple. The first Advent candle has been lit.


More important than that, today we begin the season of preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. While we’re bombarded with ads for the latest and greatest “stuff” that our friends and family absolutely must have to make their lives complete, we Catholics are into a season of prayer and reflection.   Is it possible for us to live in both worlds? It is, but we have to work at it.


Our purple is in sharp contrast to the brightly colored lights and decorations we see all around us, but there’s a reason for that. In this oasis we call the church, we find a quiet and calm that we may not find anywhere else, except in our own hearts and minds if we take this season of prayer seriously.


Sometimes sources of prayer can come to us in unexpected places. Last weekend Jan and I were in a gift shop in Saint James, Missouri. There’s a little bit of irony in the fact that the town is named for a saint because I found something there that was entirely unexpected. Meet Noah. As you can see, Noah is a teddy bear. I know you can’t read what it says on his T-shirt, especially from the back of church but it says, “Prayer is a path where there is none.” That’s a pretty profound thought for a stuffed bear. It’s worth repeating. “Prayer is a path where there is none.”


Prayer is a place where we go when we need help. It’s a place to find peace and serenity. It’s where we go to be alone with God. It’s not a physical place. Obviously this chapel is a place of prayer and that’s why we come here. But we can pray anywhere and at any time. Maybe we have a special place set aside at home for prayer. Maybe we pray throughout the day at any time or any place. During Advent we’re encouraged to pray more often, and more deeply, than during what we call “Ordinary Time”.


The Son of God came to save us from our sins. Without Jesus, we have no hope. That’s what Advent and Christmas are all about. My little friend here has some pretty profound things to say, so I thought I’d let him deliver his message to you today. Here’s Noah.


I really can’t add much to what Noah said. One key point is this: “Life is a gift. Prayer is a thank you note.” We may have a tendency to use our prayer time telling God how to do His job. “Do this. Give me that. Not thy will, but my will be done.” But, especially during this special season, shouldn’t the emphasis be on HIS WILL? When the Apostles asked Jesus how they should pray, He gave them the prayer that we say at every mass, the prayer that we learned as little children. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”


Hopefully, as we spend the next four weeks getting ready for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, we’ll remember Noah’s words. “I don’t pray because it makes sense. I pray because my life doesn’t make sense without prayer.”


Noah is the voice of Noah benShea, an author and motivational speaker. Learn more about him at http://noahbenshea.com.



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