DECEMBRRRRR!!!  This month is the darkest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, yet the people who journey to Bethlehem find the brightest of lights, the Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made  Jesus, the Son of God!  As we go among the shepherds we'll be awakened with a startling sight:  angels, who lit up the sky and announced Jesus' birth .... PAY ATTENTION!  "Unto you ..."

Advent is a season of anticipation, of holy waiting. It is a waiting characterized not by idleness or even contented peace, but by prophetic declaration and active hope.  In remembering the anticipation of Christ’s first coming, we acknowledge and nurture our anticipation of Christ’s second coming.  The prophets cry out (in their own way), "PAY ATTENTION! Judgment is coming!"  We are today's watchmen!

 Advent is a season of surprises too, of God showing up when and where we least expect Emmanuel.    Where do you see Him?  In a womb, in a barn,  as a poor minority in an oppressive empire, at the soup kitchen, at a church service you resisted attending, or in that family member with whom you disagree?  In every corner of this world from Ionia, to Palestine, and into your kitchen,  this is a season to slow down and pay attention, to listen to the prophets, and to see  God in all of life's trials.

But I am easily distracted.  Are you?  ...                            Helloooo....
             Hey YOU—Pay Attention!                   Be watchful! Be Alert!                                     Wake Up Already!

This series should be fun ...  I continue to think about situations where paying attention is valuable... Life gets busy and I for one can get caught up in all that needs to get done. Even when I’m trying to pray,  it easily can become a ‘to do’ list and I fail to give the attention to the Holy One that is amidst and amongst all the doing.  So when I considered the shake up that the prophets sought to invoke, the theme "Pay Attention" awakened me.  Yes, that's what it's about.  LOOK, SEE WHAT GOD IS DOING!"

I think I remeber in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, (or Dr. Phil),  who talked about how often when talking with their guests  wanted to ask them—“why didn’t you pay attention to your life?”  She was amazed that seemingly intelligent, ‘with it’ people could sleepwalk through their life. They didn’t reflect on what was happening around them, what people were telling them, what doors were opening.  They simply appeared to stubbornly barrel on unconsciously while their life slowly crumbled around them.

What is God wanting me to be alert to right now? Am I paying attention? Do I sometimes get so caught up in the doing that I miss God’s nudges?  I do know that when I get bogged down by the doing, the busyness, that I miss out and get let's say, difficult. I don’t always take time to appreciate a quiet snow fall or the tear in someone’s eye.  I look past the beautiful sunset and forget to be grateful. Again this Advent I want to slow down and become more alert. I pray to pay attention to life and discover the grace of God that surrounds us all.   And I hope you will too!