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.
Our living world is powerful, yet even the strongest organism needs water to live. The words of the prophet Isaiah offer images of a shoot rising from a stump and showers watering the earth. These images point us to the sustaining power of water and remind us of the cleansing power of God. In this Advent season, may we prepare to receive the water that quenches every thirst and cleanses all, may we be ready to do good.
The Rev. Chris Girata (VTS ’08) is the rector of St. Michael and All Angels in Dallas, Texas and sits on the VTS Board of Trustees.
Advent is a season that calls us to learn how to live in harmony with one another as we wait together for the promised coming. In Romans, Paul speaks of the oneness of like-minded believers as a means to accomplish God’s will. But this does not mean that we abandon our individuality. We are like the single notes on a musical scale and, when we are played together in Christ, we form a musical chord. But our harmony is impossible apart from Christ who calls us to act with one accord, to speak with one voice, to be in accord with one another.
The Very Rev. Billy Alford (VTS ’92) is the rector at Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church in Augusta, Georgia.
The Lady Chapel at Gloucester Cathedral: Memorial window to the composer Herbert Howells (1892-1983) by Caroline Swash (installed 1992). The four panels illustrate settings of his music.