Whenever and however it comes, the word of truth, God’s truth, has the power to change people. And those to whom God’s truth is spoken have a choice: they can choose to hear that word of truth, or they can choose to ignore it. If we choose to hear the word of truth, we will be changed.
-Br. James Koester, SSJE
We are ordered to be perfect, and we fail. Jesus then brings perfection to us. We are ordered to sin no more, and we sin again. Jesus then brings innocence to us. We are ordered to love, and we hate. Jesus then brings love to us. We are ordered to keep awake, and we fall asleep. Jesus then brings us the waking hour. Let us fix our gaze on the hand of God, in anticipation that God will hold our hearts in his grasp. Trusting in the strength of the Lord, let us keep awake.
-Br. Lucas Hall, SSJE
God sees you not unlike we see a child in a Christmas play. No matter how well the child acts, whether or not the child remembers his or her lines, whether the child picks up the cues or drops the props, we’re full of delight, compassion, encouragement, and gratitude for how well the child does. We are all children of God. And God adores us.
-Br. Curtis Almquist, SSJE
Isaiah 11:1-10 :: Romans 12:4-13 :: Matthew 3:1-12
As the years go by, I find myself more and more aware of a peculiar dissonance. Before the leftovers of our Thanksgiving Day feasts have even cooled, our culture plunges into a season of marked material excess. Commercial advertisements don the gay apparel of remixed, upbeat holiday jingles. Tinsel and lights adorn city streets and public squares. Numberless holiday sales abound, drawing us into a frenzy of stressful shopping, trailed shortly after by the accompanying waste. All attended by the familiar, portly figure of a jolly Santa Claus.
Please don’t misunderstand me; it is not my attempt here to polemicize the popular festivities of our ambient culture. (Not entirely.) There is nothing wrong with the desire to give gifts to one another, per se. There is nothing wrong with warming the dark, frigid nights of a northern December with song, festivities, fellowship, and lights, per se. These are all good things, to be sure, and doubtless God can speak some word of life to us through it all. Nevertheless, the moment our culture attaches the name of Jesus Christ to this prolonged cultural season of excess, I have to wonder if we are really being adequately prepared for the significance of Christmas. The difference of horizon between a season marked by Santa Claus and one marked (at least in part) by John the Baptist, it is safe to say, is a difference not of quality but of kind.
Advent is by contrast a full-blooded, lean, and demanding season in the life of the church. A season characterized by expectant waiting and honest self-examination. A season that seeks to prepare us for a revolution, but not just any revolution. Today and next Sunday are marked by the unmistakable cry of John the Baptist—the gaunt, desert-dwelling prophet, clad in a camel’s hair mantle and a lone leather belt.
Sabbath-keeping is crucial to our life as Christians. “Brother, Give Us a Word” takes a Sabbath on Sundays. We hope that this weekly pause in our messages will offer a gentle reminder to pause in your own life.
Joseph was planning to dismiss Mary quietly. But as he slept, an angel of the Lord spoke to him in a dream. He could have ignored the angel’s message. But Joseph believed what the angel had told him and acted on it. Sometimes, when facing a difficult decision, after praying about it, the answer may come in a dream. Listen to what God tells you in such a dream. Pray about it for strength and guidance. Then act on it!
-Br. David Allen, SSJE
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
We encourage you to join the AdventWord international community of prayer, collected in reflections by Virginia Theological Seminary and connections. AdventWord provides visual and written meditations during the liturgical season of Advent.
Explore the ways that people respond to these daily words — written meditations, drawings, photographs, or poems.
You may be faced right now with a decision of some significance in your life. Or you may be wanting to use this season of Advent to make certain changes. How might you go about making wise choices? Take an account of how you got to where you are now. Look back over your life and trace how God has brought you to this point. What is the history of God’s revelation in your own soul?
-Br. Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE