Reflections by Jerry Webber

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Advent Anticipation

Advent is the season that anticipates the birth of Christ, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. For centuries, the Church has paused during Advent to consider the meaning of this birth, to anticipate the birth of the Savior not only at Christmas, but in every moment of life. This year, Advent begins Sunday, November 27. Songs of longing and anticipation characterize the season, as well as the sprinkling of Christmas songs that begin to engage our hearts in the resounding joy of new life and the birth in Christ to which we are all invited.

This Advent, I'm interested in some of the characters in the traditional nativity narrative. Typically, the characters get analyzed and summarized in stereotypical ways, so that we find a handful of life-lessons in their presence at the Nativity. This year, I want to take a little different track. What if we approached the story of Jesus' birth and the characters surrounding his birth as if they were each alive somewhere within us? The approach reflects my growing understanding that we as humans are much more alike than we are different . . . that all of the foibles and glories of the worst and best among us also live within me. So what would it mean, for example, if I believed that something of the shepherds from the Christmas story lives on in me? What if the spirit of the Magi were also within me? What if there is a part of me that is like the angels, who proclaimed and sang at Jesus' birth? What if I found a corner of my life that was inhabited by the ruler Herod?

The method is akin to what one might experience in a form of Ignatian meditation and prayer. It is a way, I believe, in which we can each personalize the Birth story . . . that is, not hold it at arms length to analyze it, but to allow it close in order to personalize it. Not only, then, do I enter the story, but the story and its characters enter me!

So for the next four weeks, I'll use poetry and scripture to write about some of these characters, in hopes that we will be able to locate them within our own interior . . . and in hopes that we will recognize the Christmas story as our story. I'll post thoughts several times a week on my Daily Advent blog (

Tomorrow we begin. We'll consider the Magi, and using poetry and story we'll try to locate and be in touch with the Magi living within each of us. In the following weeks, we'll give attention to the shepherds, the angels, Herod and the innkeeper.

I invite you to make the journey with me.

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