To “make ready”; arrange, put together, produce. Preparation usually entails thought, planning and then action of some kind. Advent is a time to prepare. Is it getting the house ready for Christmas, pulling down decorations from the attic, rushing to buy presents for all? Or is it listening for that still, small voice and acting on the message of that voice for a relationship with God to unfold? Prepare ye the way of the Lord!
– Jan Gilbert served as a Trustee of the diocese from 2013-2018
Autumn is when gardeners look to their trees and shrubs and prune where it is needed to let in light and encourage healthy growth. In Isaiah 2:4, we read, “They shall beat their swords into mattocks and their spears into pruning knives…” If only we would turn from weapons to pruning shears to tend our world, more light could enter and God’s peace would grow and reign. Will it ever come? Beginning with me? Let it be so. Amen.
– Ann Stirling is a Trustee of the University of the South and a member of St. Francis, Charleston
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
We're sharing a new word each day from December 2-25, 2018, with meditations and images from people around our diocese.