The 17th chapter of John contains the only known prayer offered by Jesus for future generations of his disciples. In this prayer, Christ had only one charge for us. He prayed that we would be one, even as he and the Father are one. Imagine that. Of all the things he could have prayed for, things theological and ecclesiological, Jesus asked for something very simple and childlike. He prayed that his people would be drawn together by what they share in common instead of torn apart by their petty differences.
Sadly, the Church has not been able to live up to the high calling of her Lord. We have not been able to be of one spirit even in local congregations, much less across the diverse and scattered Church universal. Even the lovely differences that we should have celebrated have become fuel for one holy war after another.
Despite this dismal track record, in the season of Advent the frail and sinful children of Christ exchange their swords for wreaths of candles. There is something about this season that turns our thoughts from our differences to what we share in common. Even after all this time, we are still crazy dreamers.
This year, a wonderful group of women ministers from varied denominations, faiths, and traditions, have held hands across the vastness of our geography using the closeness of our technology. They call themselves “The RevGalPal Webring,” and their words encompass the full spectrum of human experience. These women of faith are helping us clean the dark glass through which we have looked upon our world. They are pointing to the coming of the light.
Have you longed for peace? Have you searched high and low for moments of grace? Are you afraid that once again you will miss Christmas and see only its frightful, commercial doppelganger that always leaves you feeling empty and unfulfilled? In these pages you will find truth born again in the manger of the commonplace. An Advent pregnancy that brings memories of a past grief, the sudden appearance of an alcoholic at a front door, the battle cry of The Magnificat, the tender memory of a battered strand of bubble lights, the miracle of running water, and the stories of Simeon and Anna, who are surely the patron saints of waiting.
These are songs of spiritual preparation, shared human moments where God’s presence became known in the best and the worst of times. Let yourself hope for peace and clarity once again. Look for the light that blazes in the darkness. Take an Advent journey with these pilgrims, who will lead us from Advent, to Christmas, through Epiphany, and even beyond.
Let us join them in our common prayer of Advent.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Gordon Atkinson, www.RealLivePreacher.com
San Antonio, Texas, Fall 2005