Listen to the quiet

By | December 15, 2010

As we listen to the Scriptures on this last Sunday of Advent we hear of a world that for centuries lie in weariness and darkness longing for a sign that God was with them. God sent a sign of his redemption, his very son. Have you ever had something weigh so heavily on your heart that you prayed for God to give you a sign? Was your prayer answered? How often do we say, “I prayed and prayed, but…”? Perhaps we were not paying attention. Often when we pray for a sign we want it to be, as stated in our first reading, “as deep as the netherworld, as high as the sky.” We forget that our God of majesty also works in deep stillness, quiet gestures and overlooked people. Sacred signs come to us in the most unexpected of places, not always when we demand them, but most certainly when we are in need of them. All we need to do is pay attention. Listen to the quiet.

One of the parks in the city is filled with Christmas lights during this season. One evening, having worked late and feeling weary, I put a Christmas CD on in my car and decided to drive through the park on my way home. One section has tall bare branched trees all covered in blue lights. A slight wind was making the lights appear to be floating in the dark night sky. As I gazed mesmerized by this sight “O Come O Come, Emmanuel” began in my car. God reached out and gave me a sacred sign, and I didn’t even know how deeply I had needed it.

As we prepare for Christmas we recall that Jesus, the sign, was heralded in a big way by a chorus of angels. But the quiet of that Christmas night held so many small signs as well: the generous heart of an innkeeper; the twinkling of a star; peasants who felt in their hearts, Emmanuel, God with us.

When you gather for liturgy this Sunday, know that the signs you so desire are already there. Jesus will come in the Eucharist, but also look for the small signs from God. What word of Scripture might touch you, what phrase of a hymn will speak to your heart? Will flickering Advent candles bring warmth to your heart, or will the smile of another quell the loneliness you might be feeling? Each time we gather to celebrate liturgy, God gives us signs, big and small, reminding us of Emmanuel, God with us.


Zahorik is director of worship at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh.

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