AdventWord Reflections: Advent 1

This Advent I offer to you reflections following #ADVENTword. Each day corresponds to a word, and we have asked individuals to offer up their own reflections. Some are rooted in scripture and some are more abstract. Some have accompanying images and some call upon our own imagination.

Each Monday of Advent we will offer to you the upcoming week’s reflections. Read them all together, or one a day. However you feel so called to reflect this Advent season.

December 1: Unexpected
by Matt Handi

It’s all a routine isn’t it? 
Start Advent with an earnest desire to connect. 
to be penitential. 
to prepare. 
This will be our quiet time before the madness of the Christmas season really hits. 
Maybe we’ll say a devotional each morning. 
Maybe we’ll gather in small groups and talk about our love for the Lord and Jesus’ birth. 
Or we’ll grumble and grouse about the season being taken over by materialism. 
Some of us will try to attend the entire Advent series down at the church. 
It’s okay if we make just two or three. 
Routines can be broken. 
This season can break them. 
They may fade silently into the faithful. 
Into faith. 
When Christ enters our hearts and our hearts wake to share. 
God’s love. 
They may fall away suddenly amidst the frenzy when we realize. 
God shares God’s love. 
with you. 
It may be a whisper in the morning 
a clanging gong
that let’s you know
Christ loves you as a protector 
,clad in a newborn’s dress, 
seeking your protection. 
Open your heart to the season, this season of
preparation. penitence. connection. 
Anticipate. the unexpected.

December 2: Visit
by Jett McAlister

“Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation…” 

Advent is a time of joyful expectation: as we look forward to celebrating God’s presence among us in the person of Jesus at Christmas, we also look forward to the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise, when all people and things will be reconciled to God through the power of Christ. Advent is about waiting, yes, but even in this season of preparation, we are reminded that God is with us, here, now, always inviting us into new life and renewed relationship.

“Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation”—these words, from the collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, recall God’s unfailing presence in our lives. It is through God’s presence and God’s grace that we may set aside the burden of our own sin; through God’s power, our hearts, minds, and souls can be purified, cleansed, and made whole.

As we journey towards Christmas, in a world where it seems like there ever more demands on our time and attention—especially in December!—how might you make room in your life for God’s daily visitation? 

December 3: Time
by: Adam Yates

When I was young, I remember Advent feeling painfully slow. Every Sunday in church when we lit the next candle was a reminder of how far off Christmas still was; how much time remained before break, seeing grandparents, and opening presents.

Now that I am older, Advent feels so terribly short. Between getting ready for Christmas at church and getting ready at home, each week as we light the next candle, I am reminded of how little time I have left.

Time is funny that way. It either feels that there is too much or not enough. But that is not the relationship I want. This Advent I’m trying a new approach, and relishing the moments I have.

Now I’m planning Christmas services. 

Now I’m visiting with parishioners. 

Now I’m sitting with my husband on the couch. 

Soon, Jesus will be here. 

Now I light the Advent candle.

December 4: Humble
by: Stephen Nagy

Matthew 11:29

He was born a homeless migrant, a lifestyle he never seemed to shed. He befriended those on the margins – the unclean, the outcast, the foreigner. And, he preached to thousands. Cleared the temple. Boldly spoke truth to power. 

What are we to learn from this strange humility of Jesus? At once meek and poor, yet strong and fearless before earthly power. 

Above all else, Christ was God’s child. He modeled a humility that subjected all that he was, all that he said and did, to God’s own will. William Temple, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote that “Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all.” 

Let us pray to let go of our own willfulness, to be all that we can be in humble service of the God of love and new creation. And so find our rest in the heart of Christ.

December 5: Raise
by: Melina Dezhbod

I am not much of a singer but when I saw the word RAISE I thought of the the song “-Raise a Hallelujah” by Bethel Music. Verse 2 goes like this…

“I raise a hallelujah, with everything inside of me
I raise a hallelujah, I will watch the darkness flee
I raise a hallelujah, in the middle of the mystery
I raise a hallelujah, fear you lost your hold on me!”

As we have begun our new liturgical year, advent has started, and we are preparing for Christ who is coming. We are not only waiting for his birth but also for his future ministry, death, and then his being raised or in other words his resurrection. We will again go through the events that occurred before and after Jesus was raised. As we take witness of this in the madness of our own world and lives; is there room to raise a hallelujah?

As Howard Thurman says, “There must be always remaining in every life, some place for the singing of angels, some place for that which in itself is breathless and beautiful.” This is an invitation in the messy world we live in to not forget the works of the already risen Jesus and when you feel, see, or hear the love, the good, and the right of this world, to raise a hallelujah!

December 6: House
by: Roxana Videla

Cuando me pidieron que escribiera en el blog de Adviento, acerca de la palabra “house”, lo primero que vino a mi mente es Belen “casa de pan” (el nombre de mi hija mayor),  donde nacio nuestro Señor Jesucristo, a quien estamos esperando de vuelta y preparandonos cada dia. En especial en este tiempo, adviento, un tiempo de alegria para muchos y de tristeza para otros, los que estan enfermos o han perdido a algun familiar y estan en duelo.

Me encanta esta estacion y me da mucha alegria ver vomo las casas se adornan con muchas luces y decoraciones. Antes lo veia por la television o en tarjetas postales, desde mi pais de origen. Hoy tengo la bendicion de poder adornar mi casa tambien, luego de accion de gracias y con la ayuda de mi esposo.

Asi como preparamos nuestras casas para la celebracion del nacimiento del Salvador, preparemos nuestro corazon en espiritu y verdad para que nazca una vez mas y nos llene de bondad, paz y amor.

When they asked me to write on the Advent blog about the word “house”, the first thing that came to my mind is Bethlehem “house of bread”, (my first daughter’s name, in Spanish Belen) where our Lord Jesus Christ was born, for whom we are waiting and preparing each day . Especially at this time, Advent, a time of joy for many and sadness for others, those who are sick or have lost a family member and are grieving.

I love this season and I am very happy to see how the houses are decorated with many lights and ornaments. I used to watch it on television or on postcards, from my home country. Today I have the blessing of being able to decorate my house too, after thanksgiving and with the help of my husband.

Just as we prepare our houses for the celebration of the birth of the Savior, let us prepare our hearts in spirit and truth to be born once more and fill us with goodness, peace and love.

December 7: Unity
by: Meg Stapleton-Smith

Romans 12: 9-21

In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes, “Live in unity with one another; do not be conceited, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.” It seems that when calls for unity are articulated from the standpoint of privilege, they tend to also include calls for peaceful dialogue, patience in finding common ground, and prudential civil discourse.

I think here of the 1963 white minister’s statement to their parishioners in Alabama to “withdraw support from demonstrations, and to unite locally in working peacefully for a better Birmingham” and to “observe the principles of law, order, and common sense.” Infused with prophetic fire, Martin Luther King Jr. responded to this in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail by saying that “constructive nonviolent tensions are necessary for growth” and that “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, but must be demanded by the oppressed.”

As we enter into the Advent season, prompted by the call from our Bishop’s to continue the season of racial healing, justice, and reconciliation, I pray that our discipleship may be informed (perhaps even haunted) by MLK’s words. I pray that we may be reminded that justice is the precondition of unity, and that the Reign of God is our standard for what is just. I pray that those who benefit from the prevailing power structures may challenge their privilege and follow the way of love that Jesus calls us to by listening more attentively to the cry of the oppressed.

December 8: Worthy
by: Dinushka De Silva

We are worthy of God‘s love.

We are worthy of God‘s unconditional and eternal love. We are worthy because we belong to our God our father and he belongs to us. To be worthy is to accept that we are of great value in God‘s creation because we are an extension of God himself. In this Advent season I see God sends down his love incarnate, Jesus Christ. For Jesus Christ is our salvation and we are worthy of God‘s salvation.

May we continue to reflect upon our own worthiness and all our brothers and sisters in this world who also deserve it. As the Christ child is born into the world that we live in, we are reminded of how precious we are for we have received this as a gift. God wishes to reach out to humanity. May each of us go forth and praise with glory knowing that we are all worthy.

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