Alison Marie Smith

Life, Leadership & Spiritual Formation in Lonely Places

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God Moved into the Neighborhood: The Fourth Week of Advent

photoIn the last couple of years, my favorite passage in Scripture has been John 1. I love the poetic and, at times, abstract language that weaves together images of the perfectly divine and organically human. Light and darkness. Children born of God. Grace and truth.

The climax of the chapter is the heart of the Gospel, the Good News, that we as Christians claim to believe. The divinity and humanity of our God in one short sentence.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:14, NIV)

Or as Eugene Peterson writes in in The Message:

The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.

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Mourning and Rejoicing: The Third Week of Advent

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Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent, the week when the church transitions from waiting and longing to celebrating and rejoicing the birth of Christ.

Today is also Black Lives Matter Sunday, a day to bring attention to the disproportionate number of black lives that are lost every year. A day to acknowledge the systems and structures that still give power to the powerful and oppress those who are already oppressed. Several Christian denominations have asked their congregations to wear black to honor Scripture when it calls us to “mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15)

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The Inappropriate Birth of Jesus: The Second Week of Advent

My advent wreath in the middle of my mess- you'll have to ask Sean why there's a hanger on the table.

My advent wreath in the middle of my mess- you’ll have to ask Sean why there’s a hanger on the table.

On a Tuesday afternoon, I arrived on campus early. My plan was to prepare for appointments with students and use the remaining time to read from my Advent devotional. I was looking forward to a restful afternoon, enjoying God’s presence while on campus.

I walked into the student union and the scene flooded my senses: the smell of ketchup and fried foods assaulted my nose, packs of students at every table crowded my vision, laughter and shouting coupled with the low hum of conversation filled my ears. Normally the Union was quiet in the afternoons. But for some reason, today it was busy. I spotted an empty table near the food court and claimed it as quickly as I could. Taking a deep breath, I unpacked my bag and settled into my seat, preparing to lose myself in my devotional.

B****! F***!

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Hoping & Waiting: The First Week of Advent

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Advent: derived from the Latin word “Adventus”, meaning “coming”

Waiting.

Waiting.

How long, Lord, how long? ( Psalms 6:3)

Advent finds us at the beginning of the church calendar, awaiting the coming of Jesus. Motifs of light and darkness adorn Christmas cards. Advent calendars teach us to patiently wait with anticipation. Nativity scenes and the star on our tree draw our gaze to the coming Christ. Our favorite carols express our yearning, Oh Come Emmanuel.

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