An empty manger at night under the fog.

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’  This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ’Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”’

There is a hunger that grows in every soul this time of year.  We label it a “need for a break” or a “need for a mental health day” or something else.  We certainly do need rest and mental/emotional space from the rush of daily life and the additional squeeze of holiday preparations.  But there are times this hunger is deeper, a hunger of the soul.  The soul is often understood to be the part of us that holds the various roles and values that make us who we are together.  It is the fabric that ties together what we believe, think, say, and do.  It is where integrity is made or broken and where our inner sense of peace comes from.

The soul craves emptiness to remember the value of being full.  It wants silence so that speech regains meaning, stillness so that movement has purpose.  The holiday culture we live in is overstuffed yet undernourished, over sold and under satisfied, over scheduled and under joyed!  Here is a prayer for Advent, the time of waiting and anticipating the return of Jesus Christ and his reign over all.

“Lord, help us observe Advent so we may gain wisdom.  Teach us to wait upon You in emptiness, in longing, with faith and trust in Your timing for our fulfillment in Christ.  Let us learn from the Prophets who trusted You to save Your people through the Messiah generations after their prayers.  They waited with faith, hope, and love.  Give us strength to prepare the way for Christ to be born anew in us by protecting space on our calendars to simply rest and be with You and one another.  In your love and strength we pray, Jesus, amen.”