121I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

Anger. Greed. The two main enemies of the spiritual life? Well, Nouwen thinks so. I’m not so sure – I like to think I’m not actually that angry a person (I accept a fair amount of stuff with equanimity that has colleagues spitting) – yet I worry that I am not spiritual enough. I find lack of concentration – being easily distracted – the number one enemy.  I suppose you could argue that this is greed for new things – knowledge, emphemera, company (Facebook, anyone)?  Maybe this is one of those writings I need to ponder some more.

Pondering today’s reading is less of a problem for me.  I see this as a call from God to be ourselves for him – but not the same self that we give to him – to allow ourselves to be transformed.  And…do you know what? This Advent…it might just be happening. Not in a big way.  Not in an “I’m giving it all up to do something else” way.  But perhaps because this discipline of reading, pondering, praying and acting each day is bringing just a slight sense that God might actually be listening and responding to my prayer that I might understand him better, rather than my frequent feeling of “I’m doing this, because I know I have to, but perhaps I’m not worthy enough to get a sign back?”

I’ve always loved Advent,  but never quite known why.  Now I might just be “getting it”. Perhaps this is because my Advent prayer has been a version of today’s prayer in the book about “opening our eyes to see beyond the lures of the world” and to “give us an opportunity to find ourselves in the shelter and safety of your wings.”  This last line reminds me of Compline, one of my favourite ways to pray, and Psalm 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of an eye : hide me under the shadow of thy wings”.

And so to the Advent Action.  We’re asked to forego one piece of “busy-ness”.  Inadvertently, I did – no newspaper this morning meant I had longer for #trainprayer on the train.  I might try this again another day with something a little harder.

To close: some music. Howells, again, I’m afraid.  Well, I’m not afraid, actually. This is is setting of A Spotless Rose – originally a German carol, Es ist ein Ros entsprungen.

A Spotless Rose is growing,
Sprung from a tender root,
Of ancient seers’ foreshowing,
Of Jesse promised fruit;
Its fairest bud unfolds to light
Amid the cold, cold winter,
And in the dark midnight.
The Rose which I am singing,
Whereof Isaiah said,
Is from its sweet root springing
In Mary, purest Maid;
Through God’s great love and might
The Blessed Babe she bare us
In a cold, cold winter’s night.
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