The Voice of My Faith

Advent Says

Dear Sisters and Brothers

We are all familiar with them - the countless number of Christmas markets in the villages and towns, which somehow call out to help get people in the mood for something.

Yesterday afternoon, I went over to our neighbouring Parish, Saint John’s where a huge Advent wreath was encircled by various Christmas stands. The atmosphere was so peaceful and joyful. I enjoyed it very much. Last night in the Family Mass in German, we started off Advent with lighting the first Candle on our wreath. Our Sacristan takes great care in making the wreath himself. We had a special visitor in the Mass followed by fellowship in the front of the Church. Something we will also do after Mass tonight. Later in the evening, I went to my former parish in Gerliswil. There too, the beginning of Advent was festively ushered in. It was wonderful meeting old friends, and partaking in the festivities and great conversations. I must confess that I woke up a bit foggy this morning.

An Emotional Time of Year

The Season of Advent is for many an emotional time of year, often filled with an overabundance of impressions, perhaps even over stimulating for some people. I should buy some gifts, but for whom? And what? Finding the right Christmas card and composing just the right words. The decorations, the Christmas tree, and the Christmas food. Many of these things are important - but not everything is equally important. With all of the suffering our world faces, can we, dare we celebrate life? That the basic needs of human life seem to be threatened now more than ever?

Emotional Ups & Downs

We live a privileged life and I am convinced that many people ask themselves these questions, which sends us into a kind of emotional turmoil. Just as there are various ways to reach the summit of a mountain there will be different answers and reactions to conflict and turmoil, to hatred and war. In our First Reading, the prophet Isaiah also speaks of a mountain. The mountain of the Lord’s house.

Dear Friends

God - do I, do we need God? It is essential question - that addresses something much bigger: Who or what is the force of my life. What measure do I use to set the standards in my life? That which is modern or fashionable now? The standard of the beautiful, healthy and successful? The standard of my neighbour who always seems to have more than I do? The standard of the dreary who never would say: I have a dream. It takes courage to experience ones inner self in the middle of life’s difficulties. Courage to face the emptiness that can sometimes be a part of our everyday life. The Season of Advent invites us to journey into the depths of this emptiness.

Advent Says...

Often, we have the tendency to fill this emptiness with things. However, Advent says: You can expect more. Advent says: Do not be satisfied with the material of Black Friday for example. You are much more than that. Friends, I am convinced: There is still open space for visions like those of the prophet Isaiah, when he prophesies: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. One nation shall not raise the sword against another. Nor shall they train for war again.” I am inspired by this image - swords becoming plowshares so that all people can eat their daily bread. I am inspired by this image – spears which become tiny knives so that all people can share the joy of life.

The Invisible Presence of God

In the hustle and bustle of our days, we need moments of quiet and stillness in order to hear and discover what is essentially important. It opens the window to one's own soul - in silence, we can hear the invisible presence of God. And God speaks to each of us - in his own way. He speaks at a time when we least expect it. Jesus encourages us to be alert when he says, "So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

For Saint Paul – it is always NOW when God speaks to us. In his Letter to the Romans, he writes: "You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep." Not only now, I often feel a longing, a yearning, deep in my heart, for meaning, for fulfilment, for security and acceptance. I like this word longing. It opens up other viewpoints and new perspectives. Maybe everything begins with longing. Everything that contributes to peace, justice and the integrity of creation.

Everything Begins with Longing

Nelly Sachs was a very famous Jewish German-Swedish writer and poet and wrote moving thoughts about the beginning.

It all begins with longing,  
There is room in every heart for more,
For beauty and for grandness.
This is mankind’s greatness and distress:
Longing for calmness,
For friendship and love.
Where desire comes true
It breaks out even stronger.
Did not your incarnation, God,
begin with this longing for human kind?
Now let our desire
Set out to find you,
And let it cease
With having found you.

Praised be Jesus Christ, the Immanuel.