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An Advent Greeting from Bishop Miller 2019

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Hark! a thrilling voice is sounding;
“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the works of darkness
O ye children of the day.”

Dear Friends in Christ,

This above hymn came to mind as I prepared to write this Advent letter and begin to walk my last full liturgical year as your bishop with you. As most of you know, Advent is my favorite season of the Church year because for me it most resembles our life as Christians. We know that God has come among us in the incarnate one, Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus will come again in glory. And so we live between the first and second coming of Christ in what is already, but not yet.

Advent is a season of urgency. The call to prepare is now. We pray “give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light now” on the first Sunday of Advent. There is no time for waiting. This cannot be put off. For me, this urgency is amplified not only by the current political climate but by the news reports of farm closings in rural Wisconsin, increased numbers of homeless in our cities, and the increasing violence across our nation. I need Jesus to come and rule and reign and restore.

When I was young, a popular song sung by many choirs was this, “let there be peace on earth and let in begin with me.” It expressed for that time the much-quoted adage of our day, “be the change you want the world to see.” Advent invites us to be the kingdom — the reign of Christ — we want in the world. It reminds us of our citizenship and our way of living the citizenship, which we affirm at the beginning of each liturgy when we say, “Blessed be God and Blessed be his kingdom now and forever.”

My prayer as I begin this holy season is, “Lord, let thy kingdom come. Lord, reign in me. May I be a sign of our kingdom for others.” I invite you to join me in this prayer.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Steven Andrew Miller
Bishop

Advent Resources

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Are you looking for moments of rest and reflection during the busy season of Advent? Here are a number of resources available from around the Church for the season. They are all suitable individual and congregational use. 


Journeying the Way of Love Advent Curriculum

For the season of Advent, Journeying the Way of Love offers four sessions to be explored as we await the coming of Christ by moving through the first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke. Luke’s gospel provides a pattern for understanding how we can live the Way of Love as individuals, as families and friends, as a community, and out in the world. The sessions are specially designed for use during the Christian formation hour before or after worship. Facilitation instructions accommodate small or large groups.

Advent Word: A Global Advent Calendar
For the sixth year in a row, #AdventWord will gather prayers via a global, online Advent calendar. Virginia Theological Seminary is offering meditations and images during this holy season beginning Sunday,  December 1. Images and meditations can be experienced via the #AdventWord website, direct daily emails, as well as on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and ASL videos via YouTube.  

Living Well Through Advent
From Living Compass: Designed for use as an individual reflection or for group study, this guide provides a foundation for seeking a deeper experience of Advent, an experience that will help prepare us for the true meaning of Christmas. Available in both print and electronic editions.

A Way to the Manger 
A Way to the Manger is a daily devotional from Forward Movement that explores Christ’s birth as recounted in the Gospel of Luke through the lens of the Way of Love and the seven practices of turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, and rest. 

Reflections on Social Justice for the Season of Advent (Year A) from the Episcopal Networks Collaborative
From the introduction: The Advent readings provide rich material for reflecting on social justice topics. Advent is a time of preparation for celebrating the coming of the Messiah, the coming of God’s kingdom. The readings bring together the prophetic and Gospel traditions calling for a new social order based on peace and justice. Advent is a time to remember John the Baptist, the new Elijah who has come to challenge the rule of the men in soft robes who oppressed the poor. John the Baptist was preparing the way for the coming of the messiah – the one that would bring justice to the world, to all creation. It is a time for us to reflect on what “living in the light of the Lord” (Is. 2:5) obliges us to do in caring for each other and our planet.

posadas

Room in the Inn: Ideas for Celebrating Posadas

Looking for a resource for Las Posadas? Forward Movement offers a free guide to help you.

The Posadas (Spanish for "inns," "lodging," or "shelter") are an Advent candlelight procession and celebration. In Mexico and other countries, it is traditional to hold Posadas in many neighborhoods on the days preceding Christmas. The Posadas are a reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for a place where Jesus could be born. We learn from the Posadas that by welcoming the poor and the needy, we are welcoming Jesus in our midst. (See Matthew 25:40.)

An Advent Greeting from Bishop Miller

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Dear Friends in Christ,

Greetings to you as we begin this season of Advent, a season of preparation for and expectation of greeting Christ in our midst. At the heart of Advent is the ancient Christian prayer, “Maranatha,” which is translated “Our Lord, come.” This prayer runs through the most loved of Advent hymns: O come, O Come, Emmanuel; come as wisdom; as new day; come as God with Us.

That prayer is at the heart of my Advent prayers this year. My heart is filled with longing for the peace on earth that Christ’s return alone can give and for a world that reflects the prayer he taught us “thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” As I watch the caravan of migrants seeking refuge, I am reminded of countless others displaced by a decree that uprooted them and of an expectant couple that needed lodging. And I find myself singing and praying the song from the musical Godspell, “When wilt thou save the people? O God of mercy, when?”

The Good News of Advent is that our hope and prayer are not in vain. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. This is our faith. This is our joy. This is our consolation. So for now, we wait and watch and pray.

Yours in expectant hope,

+Steven
The Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller
Bishop of Milwaukee

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