Advent 1: The Importance of Waking Up

Lectionary readings for November 27, 2016: 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 despair.

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.

Excerpt from Advent Reflections: Come, Let Us Walk in The Light of The Lord!  from ©Ruth Haley Barton. 2016. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Ruth Haley Barton

Ruth (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is Founder and Chief Essence Officer of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, Ruth is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Invitation to Retreat, and Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest (Oct 2022).
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Is there a post coming for week 2 and week 3?

I apologize for the confusion, I see the the title was misleading. Since publishing the resources we have been pointing people to the printed version.

gotcha. Now I know why I’m not seeing them here like I did in previous years. Thanks!

I am looking forward to meditate on all the ways Christ is coming to me (us).

“…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 despair.”

Ruth, I think that you have brought out a key point that all of us need to hear and seek.



Beautifully written reflection! I, too, enjoy that pre-dawn time of quiet expectation. Your description sounds much like my experience, right down to the mug of coffee, the windchime, and the blanket! Blessings…

You write so well! Sometimes I think you are in my head – of course, we are connected through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for sharing your gift of ‘reflection’. I appreciate you very much!!

Thank you Ruth for this reminder that the Lord Jesus is faithful to come to us, although in various ways. Yet He is coming, but in His time, which will be the right time. Thank you Jesus, for your light, truth and power. Hallelujah!

Yes, I’m a morning person too… Your words so express my experience/feelings……the ‘break of day’….then slowly the sunrise….ah! What peace and joy come! What a sense of ‘timelessness’ …I treasure that time every day! Thank you!

Very helpful reflections. Thank you. I’ll start to “wake up” tomorrow morning!

Greetings to another ‘morning person’! I remember reading that ‘early in the morning, Jesus went up to pray’. I marked in my Bible ‘Jesus was a morning person too!’ You have reminded me to look to the ‘sun/Son’ daily–His promises are ‘new every morning’. Our ladies’ group are starting Advent Reflections today(we have used your Advent booklets for past three years). This year we are following the lectionary readings and reflecting on ‘praying the names of Jesus’. Today: Light of the World’. I especially am looking for His ‘third’ advent–into my life. Blessings as you share God’s insights through this ministry. Fran (Thunder Bay–where the sun rises from behind the ‘Sleeping Giant’ on Lake Superior…glorious!)

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