The arrival of Advent this year is most timely. As a new liturgical year begins, we once again hear the call to prepare for the coming of the Lord. The season encourages us to live in hope and anticipation like our Jewish and early Christian ancestors that we read about in the Scriptures. Like them, we long for the presence and assistance of the Lord in the midst of trials that seem to be overwhelming. As Advent progresses and we move toward the celebration of our Lord’s birth, we look forward to hearing – and we need to hear – the many stories about the ways God continually entered into covenant with His people and the way prophecies challenged God’s people to recognize and respond to His presence, plan, and power in their midst.
This is a time to hear and to respond to the cry to prepare for the coming of the Lord. When the prophet Isaiah challenges his people to prepare, to repent, and to wait for the God who will “rend the heavens and come down,” he is also challenging us. When John the Baptist cries out in the wilderness and invites the people of his day to seek repentance, he is also speaking to us. When we hear the account of the Virgin Mary and the trust and love with which she responded to God’s invitation to bear God’s Son into human form, she is reminding us to be open to responding to God’s presence and call in our own lives. In Advent, we appreciate the fact that not only was God speaking to and through the major figures of salvation history, but that God is also speaking to us and encouraging us to be prepared for the glorious return of his Son.
At Saint John’s Seminary, we have continued, in the spirit of Advent, to listen to the Lord’s call and prepare for his coming. The pandemic has compelled to us to make some adjustments this year, but we have continued to fulfill our mission to form future priests as servants who are eager to respond to the Lord’s call to spread and witness to the Gospel with hope. I am most grateful for the enthusiasm and dedication shown by the seminarians, faculty, staff, and trustees of the seminary over the past year. I am also mindful of your support and prayers in these challenging times. Your assistance, by way of prayers, donations, and encouragement shows us that you share our vision and believe in the importance of forming and strengthening young men for the task of serving the people of God. Please know we are grateful for and rely upon your support.
May your observance of Advent open your hearts to God’s love. May your celebration of Christmas fill you with God’s peace and joy. May the light of Christ’s birth conquer all the moments of darkness we experience and lead us all into the light of his glorious kingdom.
Reflection by Very Rev. Stephen Salocks, Rector