Posted by: matt25 | November 29, 2009

What Will Be Your Harvest?

Modern life is hectic and seeks to crowd God out.

Nurture the just shoot within

or face your end unprepared.

Do you know someone who enjoys gardening?  Did they happen to mention to you whether they had a good harvest this year?   I have to tell you that the experience that I had this year was downright disappointing.

Even our normally abundant zucchini, which in a typical year would have at least one of my children threatening to go out in the dead of night to leave them on neighbor’s porches just too get rid of them, produced far less than we would normally eat ourselves.

It was as if nature simply did not want me to be a successful gardener this year.  There just seemed to be too much rain and not enough sunshine.

But, to be honest, I have to take some of the responsibility as well.  Here in Western New York we only have a few weeks to prepare the soil and plant our gardens and what we do in that short period of time has a great deal to do with what we reap in the months ahead.

I didn’t put the garden in as early as I should have.  I didn’t add peat moss, or compost.  I didn’t fertilize or weed as well as I should have.  All of those things would have made a difference.  All of them would have helped to improve my harvest.

I see a very clear message in this for all of us as we enter fully into this season of Advent.  We only have a few short weeks to prepare for the harvest of Christmas.  What should you I be doing right now to improve our chances of a decent crop?

I ask you that because just as it seemed that nature simply did not want me to be a successful gardener this year, our culture simply does not want you to be successful at entering into the sacredness of Christmas and all that it offers us in the light of the faith.

Oh! It will do its best to get you into a buying frenzy for every electronic gizmo and gift that is available.  It fully embraces what it prefers us to call “the holidays”.  After all, “there’s gold in them there hills!”

In fact I think its promotion of holiday shopping started the day after Halloween.  The emphasis is clear if you look at the offerings even of stamps that are at the post office.  Of the 85 or so commemorative stamps that were issued this year, only one is undeniably Christian.  And I am thankful for that one because it will be on all of my Christmas cards.

Which reminds me!  I have to get my Christmas letter written, my Christmas card list updated, I have to schedule all of my Christmas parties in, Mary Jane will be anxious about baking Christmas cookies, I have to get our Christmas boxes out of the attic and decorate our house.  I have to get all of this done wedged in around the corners of going to work, and all of the on-going responsibilities that keep me “quite-busy-enough-thank-you-very-much” all year long.

Therein lies our challenge.

I don’t mean to say that gift-giving, all the preparations, and multiple traditions are bad.  Not at all.   I am just saying that we must remember that Jesus is the reason for the season and if we aren’t careful and YES… even disciplined about our Advent activities he will become marginalized in our lives.

I am reminded of the story about the college professor who was teaching a class in time management who placed a large glass beaker with rocks in it upon his desk and asked his class, “Is this beaker full?”

Of course they answered in one voice that it was…

Then he pulled out a container of pebbles and added them in and shook them down and asked again if it was full.  This time no one would answer.  He smiled and pulled out another beaker filled with sand… and preceded to add that into his beaker until he could fit no more and asked if it was full.

He then pulled out a pitcher of water and poured it in to the sand, pebbles and rocks until the water reached the brim.

He then asked, “What is the point of this demonstration?”

His brightest student raised her hand and answered, “No matter how busy you are, you can always do a little more.”

“No!  The point is this, if you have a great deal to put in your life, make sure you put the rocks in first or you will never get them in.  The small, sometimes unimportant details of life have a way of taking up all of your time if you don’t discipline yourself to make sure you have time for the important things.”

We have many ways to help us put those rocks in first.  It begins here as we meet each week to share at the table of the Lord and break open the Word but if it stops there I fear that our harvest will be a bit disappointing.

Make sure that you pick up one of the Advent prayer books in the gathering room if that will help you.  If that isn’t your cup of tea do something else.

Take special care to gather as family for dinner and joyfully light the advent wreath and pray for each other and those you know who are in need.

Perhaps, you can stop at a church on your way to go shopping and spend 10 or 15 minutes in prayer before the Eucharist.

There are as many ideas as there are people who sit next to you in church.  Maybe this would be the best idea of all.  Talk to a friend or with your family to see what ideas you come up with that will work with your lives.

But do something… something that will allow you to consecrate this few weeks and make it something special… to bring about a bountiful harvest not only for this Christmas but for the rest of your life.

Live this Advent so that you are happy with your answers to these questions:

Will you be ready to truly celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas?

or

Will your house be decorated, the gifts wrapped, the cookies made, but your heart unfertilized?

What will be the harvest of your Advent for this Christmas?

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This Reflection was inspired by the Lectionary readings for the first Sunday of Advent Cycle C.

Reading 1: Gn 2:18-24

Responsorial Psalm:  Responsorial Psalm     Ps 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

Reading II:  1 Thes 3:12-4:2

Gospel:  Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

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