The word “rough” is synonymous to words like, harsh, tough, irregular and uneven; and it is used in 26 instances in the Bible. In April 2001, our family of four arrived in Nashville, Tennessee, from war-ravaged Liberia. We participated in a Sabbatical Priest Program at Christ Church Cathedral, and this provided us the much-needed rest, respite and rejuvenation from violence, fear and insecurity. Whenever I reflect on our family’s past, I am reminded that rough times don’t always persist.
– The Rev. James T. Yarsiah is Chaplain at St. Philip’s, Voorhees College
Secular culture urges us to grow wealthier, and proclaims that Christmas is about shopping and going to lively parties. Jesus calls us to grow more godly, so during Advent we cultivate prayer and inner peace. Secular culture tells us to eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die and then it’s lights out forever. Christianity teaches us to love our neighbor, for tomorrow we live, and our spiritual growing goes on forever. Joy to the world indeed!
– The Rev. Sandy Grant is a deacon at All Saints, Hilton Head Island
Holiday cheer, festive hymns and glittering lights...why on earth would we cry? Tears come as things change. The old passes away, and we feel deep pain or intense joy. God hears our cry and brings hope. Something new is being born. The difficult journey to Bethlehem, relegation to a stable, the birth pangs... our cry gives way as God comes into the world. New life. God with us.
– Sarah Tipton is Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Bishop Gadsden and a member of Grace Church Cathedral
Wild grapes. (Isaiah 5:4)
We look for basic...we get wild!
We look for safe...wildness ensues.
Born to be wild, unruly and unstoppable.
That is the human condition.
Yet God desires to change wild grapes...to something...More.
Could Wild Grapes be an unsustainable varietal?
The Advent journey travels through the wild desert and vineyard.
Wild grapes transformed by smooth grace.
Wild spirits focused, refined and redefined.
Wild becomes wide...like jazz.
God sees wild and says...let’s improvise!
– The Rev. Bill Coyne is Missioner for Returning Congregations for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and Priest-in-Charge of The East Cooper Episcopal Church
When I sit in a deer stand, I am very alert to my surroundings. I hear every leaf fall, every bird flap its wings. I see the squirrels doing their little dance around the corn pile. I taste and smell the sulfur in the low tide breeze. I am much more keenly alert to my surroundings when I pause for a moment. Jesus calls us to be alert, so that we may see him in all things.
– The Rev. Cn. Caleb J. Lee is Canon Precentor of Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston
In Advent we see tiny shoots begin to sprout. They are so fragile, delicate and vulnerable. They need the right water and light to grow. What in your life needs attention to start growing? What are the parts of you that feel incomplete and vulnerable, that you are afraid to let out into the light? During the season of Advent, Christ is looking for fertile ground in which to sprout a new shoot out of the old stump. (Isaiah 11:1)
– The Rev. Dr. James E. Taylor is Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, North Charleston
God guided the Israelites out of the desert with a pillar of light as a sign of his faithfulness. In the northern hemisphere, Advent occurs in the year’s darkest season. Our custom, as we await Christ’s birth, is to add lights to our dark world. As we follow the incarnate Jesus, he promises we will never walk in darkness. From God we have the goodness, the faithfulness, and the gift of light to share our love in our world.
– Ray Wannamaker Sabalis is a member of the Diocesan Council of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina
The days are getting shorter in the Northern Hemisphere and the darkness of night falls upon us earlier and earlier every day. Like this quickening darkness of the night, the Advent season pertinently acknowledges the reality of this deepening darkness within ourselves and our need for light in this world. It is no coincidence that our savior comes to us in the darkest of night. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5)
– Charles Jenkins is a seminarian at the University of the South, Sewanee
So much in our lives can seem out of focus, like a hastily taken photograph, the image is familiar but difficult to make out – maybe we are taking photos of the wrong things to begin with. In this season of Advent, Jesus calls us not to be weighed down with the blurriness of this life, but to look deeper, sharpening the image that we long to see clearly and refocusing on the actions of God in our daily lives.
– Christian Basel is a seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary
At Compline we pray ‘that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.’ Advent encourages us to see life as a watch we keep with Jesus at our side, awake and alert and ready. Lord, help me learn to keep this watch patiently and faithfully with you. Keep me awake. Help me learn to scan the horizon with your loving gaze and your limitless trust that God is with us.
– Holly Votaw is Director of Communications for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
We're sharing a new word each day from December 2-25, 2018, with meditations and images from people around our diocese.