December 15 - #AdventWord #Stir
“The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” John 1:9
As light penetrates and brightens the darkness, let the true light of the coming Messiah penetrate our lives in preparation for his presence on earth. Come, Holy Spirit, and stir the light into our dullness and our misgivings into our strength and love for you, that we made be made more complete by your assurance and your light. Fold us in to your plan and your will. Amen.
—Josh Bullock, member at Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church on Pawleys Island and a member of Diocesan Council
December 14 - #AdventWord #Exult
The Hebrew Bible reading for Advent 3 is from the prophet Zephaniah, and it includes this line: "God will rejoice over you with gladness; God will renew you in God's love; God will exult over you with loud singing, as on a day of festival." The prophet is envisioning a moment when God comes to dwell among humanity, when the fullness of God's presence is with us at last. And that moment is described poetically as pure divine exultation—so much so, that God bursts into song for the sheer joy of being among the people.
In our tradition, we respond to God in song as part of our worship. But have we ever imagined that God would sing over us? Have we ever imagined that the joy we feel as we come close to God in worship is reciprocated by the God we adore? As we look toward Christmas, we will hear the stories and sing about Mary and Joseph as they welcomed their baby, and the joy they surely felt. And we will remember the joy of the shepherds, and the angel choir, and yes even the animals, as they gazed upon the face of Christ. But let us also remember God's joy, the song of exultation that thrummed through every moment, as the divine presence became incarnate among God's beloved humanity.
—The Reverend Laura Rezac, associate rector for Children & Youth Formation at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Charleston
#AdventWord encourages participation in a global, online advent calendar. Find them all on our website at: http://www.episcopalchurchsc.org/adventword-2021
One of the earliest memories that I have of my mother’s teachings was that of what it meant to “share” with my sister. I have come to believe that we enter this world with an innate desire to share. However, over time that is affected by the world around us and we soon feel the need to hold on to that which we have; that, there is simply not enough to go around and share.
The holy season of Advent with the expectation of Christmas reminds us that more than two thousand years ago, God in God’s great generosity chose to share his Son with the world so that all of humanity might have the opportunity for forgiveness and the gift of eternal life.
The teaching of my mother about sharing seemed to stick and take hold of me at a very young age. My mentors and heroes in life were those who gave selflessly of themselves, and especially to those in need. The good news is that when we share our possessions and very beings with others, the love of Jesus is proclaimed, and we are that much closer to the kingdom of God. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s persistent and most urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” This Advent, may we come closer to the intentions of God as we more fully share of ourselves, do for others, and share the Good News of God in Christ Jesus.
—The Reverend Canon Philip Linder serves as Canon to the Ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
December 19 - #AdventWord #Blessed
I have often heard the word “blessed” tossed around in the midst of good fortune, wealth and positive circumstances. It is harder to feel “blessed” when life brings us adversity and pain, if that is our framework. But more ancient understandings of this word include being made holy, consecrated and under God’s provision and protection. In the Jewish tradition, to bless means to increase in joy and peacefulness, trusting in God to reign over circumstances, good and bad. To be blessed from this perspective, is not a recognition of riches or special privilege, but rather a humble confession that we are not self-sufficient.
If we are to consider these alternative meanings of the word, the Beatitudes of Jesus make more sense. Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn. I have come to believe in my own faith journey, that we can find peaceful blessing even in times of trouble, knowing that those who are vulnerable, are under God’s watchful compassion and protection. God calls each of us to be agents of God’s care, especially to those who need a word of hope.
During this Advent journey, as we watch and wait for the incarnation of hope into a suffering world, may we all make that humble confession and turn our hearts to being a blessing to others.
—The Reverend Denise Trogdon serves as rector of All Saints Episcopal Church on Hilton Head Island, and she is also a member of Diocesan Council.
In the Hebrew tradition we are taught that the wilderness is a place of natural habitat where all of nature is in perfect harmony; quite different from our day to day lives in busy cities, workplaces, families and, among the many differences found in our humanity. Ecologists and other scientists have taught us that trees actually share their different nutrients via their root systems with other trees in need to build life-sustaining relationships in the wilderness.
Perhaps these are just some of the reasons we find nature so healing; the simplicity, yet strength and life lessons we learn from a simple walk among nature brings balance and harmony to a fretful time in which we all live and journey together and, wait....in expectation. A simple lesson among nature offers us another quiet, reflective moment and lesson about living in harmony, preventing and/or correcting injustices, providing life-giving sustenance for those caught in various forms of displacement, and about patience while waiting in expectation. The blue heron teaches us much. In North American Native tradition it is said that the blue heron brings a message of resilience, and an ability to progress and evolve; an innate wisdom to maneuver through life.
This Advent, we may ask ourselves where is balance, harmony and an ordering or re-ordering needed in our lives, communities, and among humanity?
—Janice N. Meyer, MDiv, GC-C, is a member at St. George's Episcopal Church, Summerville
A wise woman once said, “When in doubt, always come down on the side of compassion.” She spoke in response to a volunteer wondering if food should be given to people who don't look like they are in need— i.e. “they drove up in a new car.” Compassion, like forgiveness, is sometimes beyond our reach. Why is that? Perhaps, as Brene' Brown says: "We can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.”
Jesus said, Love God, Love your neighbor, Love yourself.
—The Reverend Sandra Moyle, Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church, Pawleys Island
December 10 - #AdventWord #Repent
When I hear this word, it makes me think of some man, raving about the fact that we’ve not, as individuals or societies, received the message! The problem is that men like this have been raving for now millenniums…and we still have not heard the message. So I’m wondering if will we ever get it? Will we ever turn away from the values which propel our world into oblivion? What will it take to unify us? You’d think a pandemic might do it, right? That we would, out of necessity, join our vulnerable brothers and sisters universally to save us all from loss, but no—we seem to be divided, in fact, more divided than ever. What will it take?
A helpless baby was born into our world and showed us the way, but we have never fully embraced Jesus’ message enough to transform our lives. Are we ready at last, not only to turn away from the temptations of this world, but to turn toward our own salvation-not only in some far off heaven, but here, God’s kingdom on earth?
—The Reverend Pamela Fahrner, associate priest at All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head Island, and a member of Diocesan Council
The Oxford Dictionary defines splendor as "The beautiful and impressive features or qualities of something.” What could be more splendid than the Kingdom of God? Theologian Alexander Schmemann states "As long as Christians will love the Kingdom of God, and not only discuss it, they will represent it and signify it, in art and beauty…[specifically in the liturgy]". It's true the liturgy certainly can be resplendent. But in Advent when quiet anticipation abounds, an early nativity scene expectantly emerges and a rustic carved image of a babe resting on a pile of hay whispers God's intent. Splendor can be pure innocence and everlasting love that stirs our hearts.
—Mary Dianish, a member of Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church, Pawleys Island, and Secretary of the Standing Committee
“Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God.”
– Ephesians 5:2
Throughout the Bible, we are reminded of the importance of love. Love your neighbor. Love your parents. Love your enemies. This verse above is frequently spoken before the Offertory, and what a powerful reminder it is. “Walk in love.” Sometimes it’s not easy to walk in love. It’s easy to walk in anger, sadness, regret, frustration, apathy, and a million other emotions that sometimes get the best of us. Sometimes it takes real effort to “walk in love,” and yet that is what God calls us to do. “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God.” There are many offerings we can give, but sometimes the greatest of these truly is love. Think about the ways you can walk in love, especially when it is hard, as an offering and a sacrifice to God.
—Molly Hamilton, member of Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston, and Director of Communications for the Diocese of South Carolina
As part of this effort to create a global, online advent calendar -- led by Forward Movement -- we will share a new word each day from November 28-December 25, 2021, with meditations from people around the diocese. Each day, the meditation will be accompanied by an image relating to the word of the day as well.