The season of Advent: a time of preparations, of hurried shopping trips, of gatherings and parties, of school concerts, parish choral services, of visiting and all the events that make this a wonderful period of anticipation and activity.
It is a time of reflecting on the year which as passed and looking forward to the year to come.
We might also reflect on the people we have encountered this year and those we have shared special times with…family, friends, parish communities, colleagues and our RCIA groups.
In all of the events of the past year some may have been well ordered and structured, others may have been the product of chaos! Sometimes feel similar to the chaos of the universe; and in that chaos look at what was created.
Our RCIA groups may occasionally feel a bit chaotic and messy….people come and go…teams prepare and share their faith…during this time of enquiry, or catechumenate, groups are getting to know each other and stories are shared. It is in these stories that we often recognise the messiness or untidiness of people’s faith experience. The process of the RCIA welcomes this wonderful muddle of faith journeys, experiences and responses. It is robust enough to manage in this creative chaos.
All the early prayers in the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumen refer to the God of Creation and Christ as our guide. Advent is that time when we can recall both the gift of Creation and the gift of Christ coming into our world. Christ has always been present in Creation: in the chaos, in the stable, in our untidy humanity and in our future.
The Rite recognises that people have probably had a variety of chaotic and creative moments where God had touched their lives. One of the Intercessions mentions: ‘These catechumens, who are our bothers and sisters, have already travelled a long road. We rejoice with them in the gentle guidance of God who has brought them to this day. Let us pray that they may press onwards, until they come to share fully in our way of life.’ The sentiment in the prayer that they may press onwards seems to indicate that there are times of questioning, possible confusion and discernment along the way.
This Advent let us travel this road together, even when it gets very busy, cluttered and congested. Let us celebrate the moments of chaos which brought creation into being. Let us wonder at this Christ child who was anticipated in the words of prophets and who joins us in the untidiness of our lives. Let us pray that as people press onwards we stand beside them to rejoice in God’s creative activity in their lives.