Advent Devotions: Practicing presence…God's presence

Advent 2015. Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

By Rev. Dr. Deana J. Reed

Isaiah 12:2-6

“…I will trust, and will not be afraid, for God is my strength…” This psalm of thanksgiving was a promise to the people of God’s reign. Oh, how we long to see and experience God’s reign in these days!

As many of our congregations prepare for “Blue Christmas” worship, we are aware of sorrow and loss and fears felt at so many levels — within our own lives and beyond us. The daily news stands as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of life.

A natural tendency when faced with news of illness, disease, tragic death, injustices, and hopelessness is to lean into fear. But wait! The author of this passage of Isaiah asks us to lean into God — to know deep within ourselves that God is our strength, our hope, our peace.  

How do we do this? The author gives some direction: Give thanks to God. Call out God’s name. Ask God anything. Tell others what God has done — spread the good news of God. Sing songs to God. Shout aloud. Sing for joy. What is it about doing these things that leads to our experiencing God’s presence more deeply? Over the years I have been developing a Rule of Life (having studied with a Benedictine community). What Isaiah suggests are pretty good additions to any rule of life. And as we practice these we will naturally find ourselves leaning into God — not into fear. And in that leaning we will extend ourselves toward God’s creation and find ourselves participants in bringing hope and peace.

In this Season of Advent, may we gather in communities that are committed to leaning into God, who is our strength. May we trust and not be afraid; may we be vulnerable enough to be present to life and to dare greatly in our daily living…

May this be so for you and for me. 

Rev. Dr. Deana J. Reed is the director of field education at the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

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