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Reflections During Advent Week I

A Psalm for the Journey Psalm 122:1. I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” “I was glad,” the psalmist exclaimed, and several thousand years later the words remain fresh and dynamic. I love this opening verse of Psalm 122 for its exuberance. Most biblical scholars believe the psalm was written for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. How eager the speaker seems to make that journey, how delighted to hear that the time to begin it has drawn near. The first week of Advent invites us on a different kind of journey, an inward one that will take us through the weeks leading to the celebration of the birth of Jesus. In an ideal world, perhaps we would set out gladly, like the

Prayer for Our Spiritual Roots

A few weeks ago I attended a hymn festival at Centenary United Methodist Church, in Richmond, VA, the church where I grew up. It’s a large old downtown church, its sanctuary warm and inviting with a high arched wooden ceiling, wooden pews with hand-carved trefoils on each end, red carpets and cushions, and richly colored stained glass windows. My parents and grandparents were all active members of Centenary; each of them was buried from there. I was baptized as an infant in the white marble font that still stands in the front corner beneath a stained glass window of Jesus suffering the little children to come unto him. For a time in elementary school, I sang in the children’s choir. I still

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