by the Rev. Robert Beazley, Rector, St. Michael’s, Mandeville

Matthew Broderick, through the prophetic words of Ferris Bueller, taught us that, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Those words came to mind at the end of July when I was leaving St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Mandeville and noticed an egret in the tall grass at the front of our property. After closer inspection, I learned of a shallow, overgrown holding pond complete with tadpoles, bullfrogs, and their respective predators. With the backdrop of our Stations of the Cross, this holding pond is the ideal environment for new growth, death, and resurrection. An environment of theological significance often missed by the thousands of vehicles that pass it by each day at over 40 miles per hour. To slow down and look around once in a while is exactly what we are called to do in this Season of Advent.

Today is the second day of Advent and the second day of our collective preparation as Christians for the coming birth of our Saviour. A second day into our journey of White Elephant gift planning, coordinating what to bring for the staff Christmas potluck (even though it’s not the Season of Christmas yet), and hopefully carving out a minute or two of prayerful silence to reflect upon that coming birth of Christ. For me, the quickest route from hectic busyness to insightful contemplation is through the witnessing of God’s creation around me. Thankfully for us in south Louisiana, growth is so abundant that fine gardening is more dependent on what you prune than what you plant. Unlike our brothers and sisters in more northern latitudes, there is new life – new birth – new creation surrounding us everywhere we go. Exactly what we are preparing ourselves for in Advent does not hibernate when the days get shorter but continues to bear witness to rebirth. New life is so common in South Louisiana that it is easy to take it for granted.

More than 2,000 years before the prophetic words of Ferris Bueller were crystallized on the silver screen, the Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” As we trek through the Season of Advent, preparing our souls, our lives, our world for the birth of our Saviour, it is important to be still and know that all around us is created by the same hand. The hand of God whose love knows no bounds – who time and time again spoke through the prophets attempting to join deeper in relationship with Israel until that miracle of birth came forth surrounded by the meek and lowly creatures in the manger.

Take time in these coming weeks to sit amongst the new birth of creation in your own backyard – the egrets, the tadpoles, the bullfrogs. Take time to marvel at the creation of our world in preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ.

This is a series of Advent reflections written by members of the Environmental Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. Learn more about the Environmental Commission here.

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