This Advent we 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 16: Learn
by Kate McKey-Dunar
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants…”
What does it take to learn about God? God can’t be wrapped up in a book, encapsulated in a theory, or be tied to a diploma. God does not reside only in our studies and learning. So how do we really learn about God? Jesus thanks God for revealing God’s self to infants. God is truly known to those whose lives are reliant on the relationships they have with others.
Infants learn through their relationships formed deep in their hearts. It is when we take the teachings of Jesus into our hearts when we truly learn who God is. God asks us to stop over thinking and learn through the daily relationship we build with our Creator. We must move from our head to our heart and be in relationship with God and each other. To learn about God is to feel, deep in our soul, the love that God has for us.
December 17: Pray
by Mike Corey
Our liturgical year begins with the first snowfall of the season and it gives me pause to look at the gift of the last year. As I unwrap this precious gift from God, I wonder what lesson of God’s grace I will take with me into the new year. Wrapper and bow are carefully undone and I examine the gift. I see in this Holy present all the prayers I offered this year – prayers of praise and thanksgiving, petition and plea, on behalf of others and for those who have left us.
God reminds me, reminds us, that prayers ascending are just a start to the wonderful, life giving, relationship we’re about to embark on. The snow quietly falling reminds me that we do not only look up to find God, instead we look into the quiet corners of our heart, the stillness in our soul, and anticipate the embrace of God here and now.
Our relationship with God descends and ascends, God comes down and in, and our soul finds home in prayer, that blessed place of union between us and God.
December 18: Worship
by: Helena Martin
In the Bible, we’re instructed over and over to worship God. It’s in the Psalms, narratives and laws in the Old Testament, stories of people reacting to Jesus by falling at his feet, and instructions in the New Testament epistles.
But what does it mean to worship? Maybe we can check that box by coming to church on Sunday morning, or on Christmas Eve. Do our personal prayers count? The beautiful ones from our prayer book, or the ones on our lips in moments of fear or despair? The original ancient Greek word for “worship” implies falling at God’s feet – an embodied response to the wonder and love of our creator. How can we remember to slow down during this hectic season long enough to experience such wonder?
Advent is a time of preparation. Soon, we’ll celebrate the incarnation of Jesus: the moment when God joined Godself to human flesh as a vulnerable baby. Christmas comes year after year, and it can be easy to forget the miracle of it. Advent asks us to take the time to open our hearts so that our natural response to God’s gift of incarnation will be to worship God “with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28b).
December 19: Bless
by: Jasree Peralta
“Que Dios te bendiga.”
Those words have followed me throughout my life for as long as I can remember. Whether I was just waking up, or going to bed, if I was getting dropped off at school or getting picked up, my mother would always greet or say goodbye to me with the same phrase: “Que Dios te bendiga.” May God bless you.
It was very early on in my life when I was taught to always greet my parents first with “‘cion Mami, ‘cion Papi”. This was the shortened, more common version of saying, “Bendiciones.” Blessings.
My mother explained to my siblings and me that by addressing my parents (as well as grandparents, aunts, and uncles) this way, we were asking for God’s blessing. They would then be able to reply with “Que Dios te bendiga”, which would be a protection over us.
Being an adult, many things have changed since then. I’m not waking up and going to bed in my parents’ home anymore. My father doesn’t walk me to school, nor does my mother pick me up.
They’re not the first and last people I see everyday, if at all.
What has remained constant, and grown, is my awareness of just how blessed I am in life. Giving thanks to God for all that I have to be grateful for, despite obstacles that may come along the way, is a practice my mother taught me that I hope to never grow out of. Rather, I hope to pass it on to my own children some day. Why would anyone want to ‘grow out’ of such a thing anyways? What an emotional, joyous experience it is when we allow ourselves to revel in how it feels to be truly blessed by Him!
And while it may not be everyday that I do see my mother now, all these years later, the comfort, love, and protection from God through her still waves over me each time I greet her, and say goodbye.
“Que Dios te bendiga.”
December 20: Go
by: Tim O’Leary
In the so-called “Great Commission” which concludes Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells the disciples, “GO therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20; RSV). Jesus commands the disciples to go.
The Greek word go here (poreuo) can mean the physical act of traversing some distance, from a point of origin to a point of destination (Danker and Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon). This suggests that Jesus is always our point of origin, he is our beginning; but he tells us he is also with us until we arrive at our end. Go is a commandment; it is a word spoken by someone with authority who hopes that those hearing it will obey out of love. In this season of Advent, we can reflect on how God, within God’s own self, both issues and responds to God’s commandments.
In the Incarnation, God the Father commands God the Son to go: to go into the world God created, with all its confusion, ignorance and chaos; to go into a fleshly body vulnerable to pain but also capable of laughter and intimacy; to go from house to house and synagogue to synagogue; to go to the city of Zion with its glorious Temple.
In Jesus, God decides to move from a point of origin to a point of destination, with all the risk involved; and in Jesus God invites us to go with God in this journey.
December 21: Rest
by: Shancia Jarrett
Inspired by 1 Kings 19:9-18
The Lord: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah: I am tired of the jitters of the past and tired of living for an anticipated future.
Last night, before I went to bed, I heard the wind cry.
It was a mysteriously unforgettable sound.
A sound filled with an alluring whisper, which continues to perplex my mind. [Silence]
As I attempted to sleep, I remembered the fallen prophets. Those who fell by the sword.
Here, I am Lord, your prophet! [patting his chest with a closed fist]
The silhouettes of my shadow accompany me tonight in this cave.
Am I alone?
Is there any hope and peace in the zeal of my faith?
The Lord: Elijah, you hear my voice. I see and know you, and you follow me with love. You will never perish. No one will snatch you out of my hand. I call you by name, Elijah: my prophet. I come to you tonight in the whisper of the wind, so that you, Elijah, may Remember Every Saving Testimony. Rest tonight, for I will not pass you by.
December 22: Restore
by Dylan Mello
Advent is the season of anticipation and waiting, yet it is also a time for restoration. Restoration of ourselves as the rest of the year can wear us down. The season of Advent can become taxing on us as we get lost in the thinking of all the things to get done for our families and friends as Christmas approaches. I am reminded of Jesus’ openness to allow ourselves to rest in him and restore.
The passage I chose came immediately to mind when I heard this day’s word, restore. Knowing we can come to Jesus when we are emotionally or physically drained, sad, angry, or lost allows us to put ourselves fully into him and rest. Finding the heart of Jesus is what we might need this season of Advent, so easily accessible, yet we often so easily forget.
This Advent I hope to lay my burdens to Jesus and wait for my restoration in him.