Advent 2016: #StayWoke

Today is the beginning of Advent. As many of you probably know by now, I was raised Southern Baptist, so I’d never heard of Advent until recently, and this is the first year I’ve paid any attention to it.

For Christians, Advent is a season of remembrance and expectation: remembering Christ’s first coming and anticipating a second coming. But I really think there are some points here which anyone of any faith (or no faith) can think about.

This season is one of the busiest, if not the busiest, of the year. And everyone knows that we Americans love to stay busy and hate to wait, so it becomes even more difficult to stop and appreciate the good things. This morning in her sermon, Dean Kate Moorehead of St. John’s Cathedral talked about this and offered some advice:

“Find a time when you can witness what God is doing in this world. Find a time when you can set aside all those worries and all that busyness and all the things that you’re concerned about and just open your eyes. Life is so precious, and all we really have is this very moment. ‘Wake up,’ Jesus says. ‘See.'”

When I heard this, I couldn’t help but think of the phrase/hashtag, #StayWoke.

Matthew 24:42 says, “Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” Beyond the obvious reference to a second coming, I almost immediately thought of two things:

  • We need to stay aware of what’s happening in the world and how it affects our neighbors, who we should strive to love.
  • God can be found even “in the least of these,” and we should try to advocate on their behalf and support them as much as possible.

In other words, as I thought about how I could stay more “awake” and aware of the good things happening around me, I also ended up thinking about I can be more aware of what’s happening in the world and advocating for those who need it most.

In her book of Advent meditations, Between Two Worlds, Dean Moorehead references this call to “keep awake” in another way:

”Jesus is telling us that the quality of our awareness is immensely important. We are asked to open our eyes and recognize the presence of God in our world, in our lives. In fact, Jesus suggests that if we don’t stay awake and aware, we could miss the coming of Christ. Our awareness is directly related to our salvation.”

So, for me, the goal of this Advent season is to maintain or increase my awareness of the world around me and how it affects “the least of us,” while also remembering to pause, reflect, and be more mindful of the beauty surrounding me and beautiful moments I’m fortunate enough to be a part of. An added challenge will be to balance these two ideas.

Accomplishing any of this will require me to be aware. To live in the moment. To “stay woke.”

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