Third Friday of Advent

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Reflection—v. 17, ‘…pray without ceasing…’

Paul’s brief words capture the practices of the heart that open us to God’s ‘always Advent’ among us.  Paul begins by instructing his hearers to ‘rejoice always’—to never stop singing with Mary the wonders of the God who saves.  He concludes with the exhortation to ‘give thanks in all circumstances.’  Though the Magnificat does not always rise easily to our lips, we cultivate a heart that regards life with thankfulness because God is coming—and may yet be present in ways we cannot discern, even in the darkness.  Between these two commands is a another that holds them together: ‘Pray without ceasing.’  At first, it might seem this is a puzzle with a missing piece: how can I pray and never stop?  It isn’t, however, a problem to be solved; it is an invitation to make prayer part of everything.  Paul understands that rejoicing and thanksgiving must be imbued with the contemplative spirit of prayer that informs and transforms our hearts.  Prayer helps us see our way to rejoice when there is no joy and to give thanks in every circumstance, even the most difficult–because God is with us always, even if darkly.

Prayer  Oh my God, may my prayer ever rise to you: come, Lord, come.

-Chad Hyatt