Advent 1: The Importance of Waking Up

Lectionary readings for Dec 01, 2013. Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Rom 13:11-14; Matt 24:36-44
Click for complete Advent calendar (Cycle A) and guidance on using the lectionary.

“God comes to us like the sun in the morning—when it is time.”—Carlo Carretto, The God Who Comes

My favorite time of any day is the pre-dawn moments before the light comes. The world is dark and quiet, stretching out before me in a hopeful sort of way. Having just awakened from sleep, I am alert enough to savor everything—the dance of light and shadow in the yard, the breeze that plays through the wind chime on the porch, the warmth of a favorite coffee mug, the comfort of a blanket against the cold. The nearness of God seems especially real in those early hours.

As I wait for the light, time feels rich and abundant rather than scarce and limited. In the absence of words—and before any words have been spoken—my soul is calm and clear like the stillness of a quiet pond. There is never any doubt that the light will come; just quiet anticipation.

As wonderful as it is to be in the light, morning solitude has taught me that it is even better to be there when the light comes. Being there helps me “make contact” with this God who comes and is always coming… like the sun… when it is time. It helps me find my true-self-in-God again.

Advent is a season for waking up to all the ways Christ comes to us. Yes, the themes of Advent help us celebrate and commemorate his first coming in the Incarnation. They encourage us to anticipate his second coming in glory—of course! But there is also such a thing as the third coming of Christ: that is, all the ways in which Jesus comes to us now, bringing light for our darkness, peace for our turmoil, hope for our fear.

So this week, let’s practice waking up so we don’t miss any of the ways in which Christ comes to us every day. Sitting quietly in the pre-dawn hours waiting for the light to come—almost imperceptible at first—is a way to practice waiting and watching for the coming of the Son into every nook and cranny of our lives. In those early morning hours, contemplate how you are being asked to open yourself to this One who comes in the midst of your everyday activities. Be prepared to meet your grace in every circumstance, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour and we don’t want to miss it. “Now is the moment for you to wake from sleep” (Romans 13:11 NRSV).

O holy God, open unto us light for our darkness, courage for our fear, hope for our despair.
O God of peace, open to us peace for our turmoil, joy for our sorrow, strength for our weakness.
O generous God, open our hearts to receive the gift of your presence.

©Ruth Haley Barton. 2013. Not to be reproduced without permission.

TOP IMAGE: “Pond at Erddig, Wrexham, at daybreak” by GanMed64 is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (cropped)

Ruth Haley Barton

(Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is founding president/CEO of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, she is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, and Invitation to Solitude and Silence.


  1. Therese Galvan on December 1, 2014 at 10:39 am

    In what aspect of your life do you have the hardest time experiencing the presence of Christ? In the difficult times, in the turmoils of life, I often forget to look for the hand of God.

  2. Sandy on November 30, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    When I let my emotions overrule it’s a battle of the mind and also when I’m so focused on task that I forget about people including Emmanuel, God with me.
    I make sure to take early morning quiet and my Daily Office pauses throughout my day no matter what I’m doing.

  3. The Way of Advent | Streaming the Gap on November 30, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    […] I’m going to be reading this book through the Advent season, and I also have always enjoyed Ruth Barton’s writing on Advent as well. You can read more on that here. […]

  4. celeste on November 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    At my job when things get busy. I have to keep reminding myself that this is my mission field and to work for the lord not for myself.

  5. Karen theis on November 28, 2013 at 7:17 am

    When I got off the bus yesterday l looked up and saw the half moon between the buildings and was reminded Jesus is with me wherever I go, he is so steady, so faithful….even when I go out to my car in the early morning I look up and he is there……

  6. Judy Davis on November 26, 2013 at 9:33 am

    When I allow the busyness of life to overtake me, my awareness of the presence of the Divine is crowded out and I begin to lose my emotional balance.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get the Beyond Words newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.