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Advent 1- Now in the time of this mortal life

Collect for the First Sunday in Advent:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Dear friends,

This year, thanks to Rev. Julia, I was introduced to a young writer and theologian, Dr. Kate Bowler. Rev. Julia had the privilege of taking a class from Dr. Bowler at Duke University while she was getting her M.Div.

Dr. Bowler’s recent book The Lives We Actually Have: 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days has become a “go to” resource for me in my pastoral care work and in my own prayer life, as the blessings and prayers speak deep into the heart of real life, illness, grief, hope, healing, and growing in faith. I encourage you to get a copy, or put it on your Christmas wish list, as you will find resources as a parent, grandparent, friend, spouse, sibling, and fellow traveler in this mortal life!

For the next few weeks, the clergy reflections will feature one of Bowler’s Advent blessings. (We have her permission to use these in our liturgy and in print). I pray that her words and her gentle, courageous heart will be a channel of God’s love for each of you on your Advent journey. She captures well the themes of Advent–a longing for Christ to come, for relief from our mortal distress, a faith that God is in charge, even though we often feel alone.

For the first Sunday of Advent-hope

God, these are darkening days, with little hope in sight.

Help us in our fear and exhaustion. Anchor us in hope.

Blessed are we with eyes open to see the accumulated suffering of danger,

sickness, and loneliness,

the injustice of racial oppression,

the unimpeded greed and misuse of power, violence, intimidation,

and use of dominance for its own sake,

the mockery of truth,

and disdain for weakness or vulnerability

—--and worse, the seeming powerlessness of anyone trying to stop it.

Blessed are we who ask:

Where are you, God?

And where are your people

—the smart and sensible ones who fight for good

and have the power to make it stick?

Blessed are we who cry out: O God, why does the bad always seem to win?

When will good prevail? We know you are good, but we see so little goodness.

God, show us your heart,

how you seek out the broken.

Lift us on your shoulders,

and carry us home–no matter how strong we think we are.

God, seek us out, and find us, we your tired people,

and lead us out to where hope lies,

where your kingdom will come

and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Fill us with your courage.

Calm us with your love.

Fortify us with your hope.

P.S. Open your hands as you release your prayers.

Then take hold of hope. As protest.

Your sister in Christ,


Blessing credit: The Lives We Actually Have: 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days, by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie. Convergent Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House 2023 New York NY

Photo credit: N. Hagner Dawn over Otter Lake, NH 2023

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