Excerpt from Pauses for Advent

Read Mark 13:32 – 37

What I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” (Mark 13:37)

How easily we succumb to sleepwalking through our lives. We go from experience to experience, encounter to encounter, event to event on autopilot, showing little awareness that Jesus is present and active in our midst. Consequently, we confine our life of faith to certain religious moments such as going to church, saying our prayers, or offering grace before a meal, and our everyday existence gets divorced from our spiritual life. Sleepwalking endangers our spiritual health.

Advent is a time to wake up. To awaken is to live in a a constant state of awareness and attentiveness so that we do not miss Jesus, who is ever-present and ever-active. It means living in the expectancy that we may be surprised by grace and mercy breaking into our lives at any moment. The ordinary things are not to be taken for granted; rather, they are the places, as Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, has pointed out, where we always can expect something new from our Master and Teacher that will touch our lives in some way. If we are sleeping, we may miss these Advent gifts! 

So how do we wake up? A few simple practices come to mind. We can choose to receive each new day with gratitude and joy, to appreciate our early morning cup of coffee, to open our eyes to whatever is before us, to listen carefully to what is being said by those we are with, to taste the food we are eating, to give our attention fully to whatever task we are completing, to take time to appreciate the sounds and sensations around us, and to focus our attention on the present moment. And in whatever we do, we seek to be expectant — expectant that the Messiah who has come will come again and meet us in the here and now. Being awake is all about experiencing Jesus wherever we are, in whatever we are doing, with whomever we find ourselves.

Daily Practice

Before going to bed tonight, think back over your day. Recall a moment when you were fully awake to the world around you. Then, remember a moment through which you sleepwalked. Notice the difference between these two moments, and ask God to help you stay awake throughout your day tomorrow.

Hudson, Trevor. Pauses for Advent: Words of Wonder. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2017. pp. 15 – 16.