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2013 Advent Devotional 3

Happy snow day! I hope as you read this you are bundled up somewhere warm and safe.  May the surprise quiet and stillness of a snow day give you the opportunity to slow down for a moment and listen for the still small voice of God.
 Today’s devotional is written by Rev. Dr. Valerie Fortsman.  Dr. Forstman is the Assistant Dean for Common Life at Brite Divinity School.  She is a graduate of Brite, where she earned her Masters of Theological Studies in 2000 and PhD in Biblical Interpretation in 2007. She also holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin College and a Masters of Music from State University of New York at Stony Brook. In addition to her work at Brite, she is also a professional flutist, playing part-time with the Dallas Symphony, and a Zen Teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan Tradition. In 2007,she was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at Midway Hills Christian Church in Dallas.
 In her work, in her music, and in her life she helps to create space for others to encounter the sacred. Although Dr. Fortsman and I have not yet officially met, I have already been lucky enough to receive an email from her filled with her kindness. It was obvious in her words there and here that God’s love is alive in her.  May her words today be a blessing to you as they have been to me.
 God’s peace to you, Allison
December 6, 2013                                                   HOPE
An Advent Devotional, by Rev. Dr. Valerie Fortsman
For as long as I can remember, the first Sunday in Advent has come too soon. On the heels of Thanksgiving and in the throes of end-of-the-semester activity, this liturgical season of waiting catches me off guard. Suddenly, God incarnate is gestating. God is coming to be born, again and anew, a child of wonder into a world in need.  
How can we clear the space for holy waiting? What are we to do—in this great undoing of our habitual actions and assumptions—to prepare the way for Divine love to enter the world? How can we make way for God’s transforming and reconciling love to bear us anew into a world of peace and promise?
At the beginning of Advent, hope is the watchword. Hope anticipates a future that transforms the present. Hope sees the unconditional love of God embodied in the here and now, while yet longing for the One to come. Hope opens its hands in gratitude and attunes its heart to God’s surprising movement in the world.
As the Advent season opens in hope, the lectionary texts call us to “Keep awake!” (Matt 24:42; cf. also Rom 13:11). This takes practice. The rituals and rhythms of Advent help. So do habits of prayer and mindfulness. At Brite Divinity School, where I offer support for common life and spiritual formation, I lead weekly silent sitting and Zen meditation. There the invitation to holy waiting can be heard, “Don’t just do something, sit there!”
Wherever you are in this busy season of waiting, may the hope of Advent enkindle your heart and light the way for peace, love, and joy. “O come, O come, Immanuel!” Amen.


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