Advent 2015: A Meditation from the Dean

NOVEMBER 29, 2015

“Religion creates community, community creates altruism
and altruism turns us away from self and towards the common good...
There is something about the tenor of relationships within a religious community that makes it the best tutorial in citizenship and good neighborliness.” —Jonathan Sacks

We begin each new Church Year with the four weeks of Advent—a preparation for the Feast of Incarnation—the birth of Jesus the Christ. We pray that God will “give us grace to cast away the works of darkness” as we “put on the armor of light.” Every year we ask for that armor of light—even when the year past or year expected is not filled with the shadows of the darkness felt around the world because of the attacks on Paris, Mali, or Nigeria.

But at times when the world seems almost to be unraveling in hatred, evil and violence, it is easy to understand our connection to the generations which have reached for the Light in their times of darkness. And to feel a kindred spirit with those who feared that God had either abandoned them or been rendered impotent by the dark shadows of Evil.

That connection can elevate us to new levels of connection, and move us beyond our individual fears into global citizenship. Later in Advent (the Third Sunday), we will pray that God will “stir up” the Divine Power and, with “great might come among us…because we are sorely hindered by our sins” and want to be delivered from them. Advent culminates with us praying that our consciences will be purified by God’s “daily visitation”—not just once a year—so that when Jesus comes we will be “mansions prepared” for Him.

It is a misconception to think that truly or genuinely religious people are at the core of these waves of terror. May we use this time of expectancy and new starts to be better informed about our faith and other faiths. May we see in the underlying, shared values of them, a call to citizenship and good neighborliness. The fate of our world and those most vulnerable who share it with us depend on our passing that tutorial.

Blessings and the grace of this holy season are extended to you from this great Cathedral.