Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Evelyn Underhill on Advent waiting & our expectation of God

From Advent with Evelyn Underhill, edited by Christopher L. Webber

We should think of the whole power and splendour of God as always pressing in upon our small souls. “In him we live and move and have our being.” But that power and splendour mostly reaches us in homely and inconspicuous ways; in the sacraments, and in our prayers, joys and sorrows and in all opportunities of loving service. This means that one of the most important things in our prayer is the eagerness and confidence with which we throw ourselves open to his perpetual coming. There should always be more waiting than striving in a Christian’s prayer - an absolute dependence on the self-giving charity of God. “As dew shall our God descend on us.”

As we draw near Christmas, this sense of our own need and of the whole world’s need of God`s coming - never greater perhaps than it is now - becomes more intense. In the great Advent Antiphons which are said in the week before Christmas we seem to hear the voice of the whole suffering creation saying, “Come! give us wisdom, give us light, deliver us, liberate us, lead us, teach us how to live. Save us.” And we, joining in that prayer, unite our need with the one need of the whole world. We have to remember that the answer to the prayer was not a new and wonderful world order but Bethlehem and the Cross; a life of complete surrender to God’s Will; and we must expect this answer to be worked out in our own lives in terms of humility and sacrifice. If our lives are ruled by this spirit of Advent, this loving expectation of God, they will have a quality quite different from that of conventional piety. For they will be centred on an entire and conscious dependence upon the supernatural love which supports us; hence all self-confidence will be destroyed in them and replaced by perfect confidence in God. They will be docile to his pressure, and obedient to every indication of his Will.


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