The Third Sunday of Advent

third sunday of advent

Here’s my devotional reading for this morning, the third Sunday of Advent: a few words from Presbyterian pastor and author Eugene Peterson in a collection of essays titled, God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas.

There can’t be very many of us for whom the sheer fact of existence hasn’t rocked us back on our heels. We take off our sandals before the burning bush. We catch our breath at the sight of a plummeting hawk. “Thank you, God.” We find ourselves in a lavish existence in which we feel a deep sense of kinship—we belong here; we say thanks with our lives to Life. And not just “Thanks” or “Thank It,” but “Thank You.” Most of the people who have lived on this planet Earth have identified this You with God or gods. This is not just a matter of learning our manners, the way children are taught to say thank you as a social grace. It is the cultivation of adequateness within ourselves to the nature of reality, developing the capacity to sustain an adequate response to the overwhelming gift and goodness of life.

Wonder is the only adequate launching pad for exploring this fullness, this wholeness, of human life. Once a year, each Christmas, for a few days at least, we and millions of our neighbors turn aside from our preoccupations with life reduced to biology or economics or psychology and join together in a community of wonder. The wonder keeps us open-eyed, expectant, alive to life that is always more than we can account for, that always exceeds our calculations, that is always beyond anything we can make.

Thank you for the reminder that what I long for at this season of the year – and any season, for that matter? – is “a community of wonder,” a company of the faithful, a church – caught up, not in programs and activities and lovely decorations, but in the story of a God who became one of us.

And then, this prayer for the third Sunday from the Book of Common Prayer, which for some reason has become my devotional guide during this season:

O LORD Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit forever, one God, world without end. Amen.

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

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3 Responses to The Third Sunday of Advent

  1. Sandy Steffen December 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Amen & Amen Doug! Miss you!! Counting the days to closing. Sandy ( :

  2. mike December 15, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    Hi Doug –

    “We find ourselves in a lavish existence in which we feel a deep sense of kinship”

    Really like that thought. Having the opportunity to experience/share our walks with Christ with each other is something I’m greatly thankful for. Faith makes everyone your friend.

  3. Georgia Hamilton December 16, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    Doug, Thank you for your observations on the community of faith, especially highlighted at this time of year. Mike’s comment about Faith and friendship get’s to the heart of what you said in a few words! And yes, I’m thankful for so many blessings, almost all, undeserved!


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