Beloved friends – Advent Greetings! We are now turning the corner on our journey through this short and holy season of waiting and watching and wondering. I have heard many share their love for these few sacred weeks leading us towards the Feast of the Nativity culminating in the story of Jesus’ birth.

Last week I received a beautiful gift; a book titled, Mother of God: Similar to Fire. It is an exquisite collaboration between famous iconographer, William Hart McNichols and spiritual writer Mirabai Starr. With the turn of each page the reader is greeted by both a beautiful icon reflecting a different aspect of Jesus’ mother Mary alongside a meditative prayer designed to pull you in and invite a time of contemplation hoping to inspire. It does not disappoint. And today as I turned the page, I drew in the Icon above titled: Our Lady of the New Advent, Burning Bush adjacent the following meditative prayer:

Blessed Mother,
The world is burning.
We call upon you once again to say Yes to the fearsome grace of the Holy Spirit,
And allow yourself to be quickened with the Divine Word.
Come down from the mountain where you have stood vigil,
and deliver the Hope you carry into the empty container of these troubled times.
I will meet you halfway, Holy Queen, I will do my part,
and stand beside you.
Together we will usher an age of peace and mercy
back into the heart of creation.
Together we will step into the flames and we will not be consumed.

There is so much that draws me into this icon and these words. The world does indeed feel at times as if it is on fire in so many ways- from our politics to the environment, from gun violence to food insecurity, we seem consumed with strategies less focused on justice and mercy and more obsessed with winning and domination and control.

The cry of the petitioner to deliver “Hope” is our modern cry as Christians and the promise of this season of Advent. But notice the agency that follows those words: I will meet you halfway, Holy Queen, I will do my part, and stand beside you. We are called in our vocation as Followers of Christ into a role of advocacy and agency- meeting the Divine “halfway” every day of our lives. And that my friends, is what grabs hold of my heart day after day as we journey together as a community of faith in downtown Toledo.

Each time we say goodbye at the time of death; each time we welcome a new member “home” to Trinity; each time we forgive, sing, pray, listen, love and advocate for the rights and inclusion of all of God’s children- all of it is done faithfully when we meet the Divine halfway. The journey is not ours alone nor do we need to know the final destination. “Showing up”, is indeed what is required and why I love who we are together. Thank you for your courage and compassion and kindness.

Come home this Sunday as we light the third candle- the pink one- the color of joy, reminding us that we are well on our way to Bethlehem and soon we will greet the one who came down to dwell among us; meeting us halfway again and again and again.

May you never forget that you are loved,

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