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 23: Message
by John Kennedy
I look back to the place and the time the Word became a man, when the message of God announced freedom, a new way and, yes, a new hope. That message, of course, is not just a word but the Word.
And so, a question this Advent: when will I get the message?
When will our world get the message? Pope Francis said that our world is deaf. Open our ears, Lord, to hear you. I have already heard the message, and yet it eludes me. What stands in the way? I am not fully converted. I share in the general deafness. I’m no exception. And that’s just it, isn’t it? To realize, deep down, that I’m no exception — just a human. In his birth, Christ became decidedly unexceptional; just like us “except without sin.”
So, in embracing my lowliness I might find that the Word can truly speak in and through me, what Meister Eckhart called the birth of the Son in the soul — the soul that is quiet and simple enough to receive him. To get the message I must be down low, on the floor, beneath the floorboards! Maybe I’ll get the message there.
December 24: Beloved
by Erika Hagan
My son’s grandparents take him into New York City on the Friday after Thanksgiving each year. The first year, I was a nervous wreck. I knew what a beautiful tradition this would be for him and his grandparents, I knew he would be safe and all would be well, and yet…he was my beloved. It was so hard to let him go, to have him not be with me where I could keep him safe.
Jesus is God’s beloved son. And, unlike me with my son, God knew that Jesus would not be safe where God was sending him. Into poverty, into exile, into occupation, into a world where we are hurt physically and emotionally, into a society that wouldn’t accept him, with friends that would betray him, moving towards a difficult death.
How can God bear it?
The only answer I can come up with is that, somehow, we are beloved by God too. That being with us, sending God’s beloved to God’s beloveds, is what Christmas is about.
December 25 – A Christmas message from the bishops
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” – James 1:17
Dear Companions in Christ:
In a time of year where writing wish lists are encouraged, what if we were to flip the script? Instead of writing down all the gifts we think we want, what if the tradition were to make a list of all the gifts for which we are already grateful? What would that list look like for you?
And if we still do find ourselves craving more than what is already ours, we must ask: where have we been searching for these gifts? Have we been fumbling in the shadows? Have we attempted to take control on our own to find them? Or are we allowing the longing in our hearts to guide us right to the light of the world, Jesus Christ?
James calls us to turn away from the human script of wanting more; and to make a new list. We are invited to write a list of all of the good gifts that God has given to us. To remind ourselves of the true source of all the good we have, and the true source of all the good we crave. And, to remember, despite times of darkness where we may fumble, our source of light and love is forever constant.
As we celebrate this joy filled season and rejoice in the perfect gift of Christ’s birth, let us reflect on the countless good gifts we receive from our Lord.
The gift of love.
The gift of peace.
The gift of happiness.
The gift of faith.
May all these be yours at Christmas.