When Joseph obeyed the angel’s message, “go, take Mary who is with child as your wife,” the Holy Family came into being–Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Too often we overlook Joseph who was given a vocation and accepted it. Who else do we overlook, seeing them as “minor players?” The message of Advent is clear, there are no people who should be overlooked or marginalized. Our vocation as Christians calls us to see the Babe of Bethlehem in each and every person. That is the message of Advent.
The Rev. James Barney Hawkins IV, Ph.D., Co-Director, Bicentennial Campaign and Arthur Carl Lichtenberger Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Theology.
“Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;” the Psalmist cries out three times, “show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.” There are many sources of pain and suffering, but only one source of life and peace. Advent’s clarion call is to turn back and find oneself anew in the light of the face of God, restored to wholeness by the one whose return we await.
The Rev. Canon Frank Logue (VTS ’00) is the bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.
Rest is where the magic happens. True rest changes us at the cellular level. It is the space in which the body is strengthened and the soul restored. Catch your breath, let down your guard, rest and let God come especially close. Relieve yourself of the adrenaline rush and the accolades wrought of busyness so that Jesus can be born anew in you.
The Right Rev. Jennifer Baskerville Burrows is the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.
Go see. Go hear. Go tell. Following Jesus involves movement, witnessing to his ministry, using our agency for positive change through word and deed. As we go, we must keep our eyes and ears open to what the world is telling us, so that in our going, we are prepared to authentically address the needs of others and of creation.
Alan Yarborough is the Communications Coordinator and Office Manager for The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations.
A Thames Clipper sails past St. Paul’s Cathedral, London
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us of the power we all have to BLESS others when we are following the way of love. “…the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” Every day and every encounter is an opportunity for blessing.
Jenny Grant is the Officer for Global Relations and Networking in the Global Partnerships office of The Episcopal Church.
Looking down from among the octagon angels at Ely Cathedral
In the weeks prior to Jesus’s birth, the Magi left the familiar on a long trek to an obscure town in a foreign land. It’s a long way to go to worship the new king born in Bethlehem. It was not an easy journey. Advent is our own long journey leading us to a place where we can recognise God revealed to us and to worship him.
The Rev. Richard Sewell is the Dean of St. George’s College, Jerusalem.
The west window at Chester Cathedral showing the Holy Family with Saints Werburgh, Oswald, Aidan, Chad, Wilfrid, and Ethelfleda
It is not easy to pray. The apostles knew that. That is why instead of a lesson on preaching, they asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus replied, “When you pray, say ‘Our Father.’” Prayer is relationship. When we say, “let us pray,” we open ourselves to a deeper and intimate relationship with God. We also open our hearts to humanity so we may intercede for the world.
The Rev. Fred Vergara is the Missioner for Asiamerica Ministries for The Episcopal Church.
Following the bombing of the mediaeval Coventry Cathedral in 1940, Provost Howard had the words ‘Father Forgive’ inscribed on the wall behind the Altar of the ruined building. Two charred roof-beams which had fallen in the shape of a cross were bound and placed at the site of the ruined altar.
The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation is prayed in the new Cathedral every weekday at noon (in the Ruins on Fridays), and is used throughout the world by the Community of the Cross of Nails:
‘All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class, Father, forgive.
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own, Father, forgive.
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth, Father, forgive.
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others, Father, forgive.
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee, Father, forgive.
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children, Father, forgive.
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God, Father, forgive.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you’.
Isaiah encourages: Say to those of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear!” In these polarized times it is often fear that keeps us from knowing neighbors who are “not like us”. God’s Way of Love encourages us to learn from those whose culture, religion, race, way of life is different from our own, there to exchange rich gifts of God’s whole creation.
Margaret Rose is the Ecumenical Officer for The Episcopal Church.
I watched some children play hide-and-seek at a party recently. The little girl turned away, squeezed her eyes closed, and counted. Then, with a loud giggle, she spun back around. The look on her face when she turned was one of pure joy and excitement as she anticipated finding her friends.
We are invited this day to turn our hearts towards God. May we do so with great anticipation and find joy in discovering that God is ready to be found.
The Rev. Kim Jackson (VTS ’10) is an Episcopal priest based out of Atlanta, Georgia and sits on the VTS Board of Trustees.
Adapted from T. S. Eliot’s poem, ‘Four Quartets’, words engraved on the glass door of St. Catherine’s Chapel in Norwich Cathedral: “Reach out to the silence at the still point of the turning world / Except for the still point, there would be no dance”
The spirit of gathering is in the air-gathering with friends and family, gathering gifts to share, gathering prayers and songs for the new dawn of Jesus in our midst. Drawn together by the light of the newborn Christ, we gather at the crèche to see Jesus, and glimpse in one another his saving love.
The Rev. Taylor Devine (VTS ’17) is the associate rector at St. Philip’s in the Hills, Tucson, Arizona and director of the Episcopal Service Corps site, Beloved in the Desert.