Monday, First Week in Advent

by Matthew B. Harper

Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road… and the crowd that went before him…shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:8-9)

The people of Jerusalem were so happy to welcome Jesus. They cheered him and lay their garments in the road. Oh, how the Apostles must have rejoiced on this day. This was the Messiah, the one that they had forsaken all others to follow, and they must have rejoiced to see the crowds hail Jesus. What a ‘mountain-top’ experience. And yet it was this very same crowd that would chant for his death only days later. What a deep ‘valley.’

I am the rector of the Kairos community here. A Kairos retreat is a high mountain top experience for so many men, and I am always blessed just to be here when God is blessing them. But a Kairos retreat is only three days, and the fourth day can be hard. The mountain top experience must be kept alive, even when we are no longer on the mountain. No matter how powerful the talks are that are given by the ‘outside’ (free) team members, the last talk of the retreat is always given by a prisoner. It is a talk about how we go forth back into the prison, often a deep and barren valley, and still let this experience be alive within us. And yet the answer seems simple: if the mountain is God, then when we go into the valley we must bring the mountain with us!

The spiritual disciplines of prayer, mediation, study, sleep, and godly toil are well proven by spiritual people throughout history. They are proven, because they work. They are ways that we structure our lives to make constant room for God. They are ways that when we find ourselves in a valley, in a desert, we are welcoming God in. And when we welcome God, God is present.

Sleepers, wake!” A voice astounds us, the shout of rampart guards surrounds us: “Awake, Jerusalem, arise!” (Hymn 61)

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