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.
Confess: a beautiful two-sided coin. To confess is first to disclose. The work of Advent includes examining our consciences by taking a fearless look at ourselves and naming before God those actions not in order with our Creator’s call on our lives. To confess is equally to profess our deepest beliefs. This too is Advent work, for a people who live in hope, secure in the knowledge that we are forgiven and free in Christ Jesus.
The Right Rev. Scott Barker is the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska and is a member of the VTS Board of Trustees.
The Amnesty International Candle in Salisbury Cathedral
God’s grace is tolerant and patient. God’s grace gives solace and comfort to all believers and bears them up in the midst of distress. God’s grace does not mark what we do amiss. If we seek to share this grace, we must be ready to comfort those who are cast down and to support those who are oppressed.
Nedine Manyemba is the Ecumenical Assistant at the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.
Celebrating the 900th anniversary of Peterborough Cathedral
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots, we read in Isaiah. Just as the branch is rooted in Jesse, God’s living judgment is rooted in righteousness and equity, and the fruit of that righteousness and equity is full knowledge of God in God’s glorious dwelling place.
The Rev. Della Wager Wells is the priest-in-charge of Emmanuel Church in Newport, Rhode Island.
The South Rose Window at Lincoln Cathedral, known as the Bishop’s Eye.
Because often we do not value our own worth, we can’t imagine being worthy in the eyes of others. But in this season of Advent, the coming of Jesus casts those negative ideas aside. We are free to claim our worth as beloved children of God through God’s redemptive love and grace.
Dorothy Linthicum is a catechist for Baptized for Life and Forma Board member.
The Baptismal Font (carved in a large rock brought from the Holy Land) in front of the Baptistry Window (designed by John Piper) at Coventry Cathedral.
In order to have unity, we must have reconciliation. As human beings, we must empty ourselves of all hatred and envy and be filled with love, blessing, and the grace of God. This can only happen when we open ourselves to God’s plan for us and for all humanity and become ambassadors for Christ, seeking to share the message of reconciliation.
The Right Rev. Suheil Dawani is the the 14th Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem.
‘Reconciliation’ by Josefina de Vasconcellos at Coventry Cathedral
The prophet Isaiah invites us and ‘all the nations’ to go up to the ‘house of God,’ the place where God dwells (Isaiah 2:2). For the ancient Israelites it was the tabernacle, then the temple. For us the place where God dwells may be the church, or the natural world, or the inner depths of our hearts. It is the place to which we must return to learn to live well.
Br. David Vryhof, SSJE, is a monk, priest, and community Communications Director of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, an Episcopal religious community for men in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
When we raise something, we put it above everything else, make it stronger, better, and more noticeable. What is our focus for all the things that we raise in our own lives: children, questions, concerns, taxes, salaries, walls, fences, money, prayers, and more?
Isaiah proclaims that the mountain of the Lord’s house “shall be raised above the hills.” It will draw all people and nations to God. Advent echoes this prophecy and offers us the ability to focus and redirect all that we raise up in the present to the future hope and promise of Jesus Christ.
Shelagh Casey Brown is the director of Alumni and Church Relations at VTS and is the president of the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes board of directors.
The Lantern Tower at Sheffield Cathedral. ‘The wooden structure represents Christ’s Crown of Thorns and the colours symbolise humanity’s struggle and conflict (blue and violet) transformed through the Resurrection and the Holy Spirit (gold and red) into healing and growth (green)’.