I am always humbled by the brothers and sisters who take time each day to “do their devotions.” My mother led her five children in devotions many mornings before we walked up the hill to Belle Stone Elementary School. I was not impressed with her commitment until I got older. Mom, in her quiet steadfastness, introduced her children to an important spiritual discipline. We were Methodists, so Mom turned to The Upper Room for inspiration.
Over the years, I have explored a wide variety of resources to start my day on the right foot.
One evening, as I browsed through the devotional literature shelf at Barnes and Noble, I picked up a piece that intrigued me - One Hundred Blessings Every Day: Exercises for Personal Growth and Renewal Reflecting the Seasons of the Jewish Year. I like it. Not only do I gain understanding of the unique Jewish calendar, but I am inspired by reflections of our Jewish brethren. And Jesus was born, raised, and died a Jew.
The autumn season here in the United States corresponds to the Jewish month called Tishrei, which means “to begin.” The first day of the month of Tishrei is Rosh-Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It stirs my soul to think that Jesus celebrated these holy days as he grew up. Our Advent (synonyms would be arrival, emergence, dawn, birth, rise) has much in common with the Jewish New Year.
The Jewish symbol for the month of Tishrei is a scale. A scale represents the idea of balance. This image caused me to reflect. As we wend our way through the years we are given, it is remarkably, predictably true that our lives become unbalanced. Too many demands. Too much to do. Too much information. Too many temptations. Too many lies. Too much “this world” and not enough of “God’s world.”
Advent is a time for us to step back, step away from the scary, divisive times we are in and check out our balance. I won’t speak for you, but my life is often out of balance. Advent is a time for me to rediscover that for every mistake I make, there is mercy. For every sin I commit, there is forgiveness. For every despairing thought, there is the grace of a long-suffering and everlastingly loving God. Advent is the time to find my balance, to repent, to turn toward God.
As one ancient Jewish Rabbi named Vilna put it, “Each day should be a new experience. Each day we have the opportunity of a fresh start. Each person who repents is like a newborn child.” Or, as another ancient Jewish prophet put it, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”
May the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding be with you.