Gathered Wisdom, Dec. 1

For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light
(Psalm 36:9).

What shall we do with Advent this year? Traditionally, Advent is a season of waiting joyfully, expectantly, with hope. Have we run out of hope in this trying time of COVID? Are we just too tired to keep on going? So were the Israelites in the Exodus, say a lot of writers. Here are four perspectives on Advent and the pandemic.

A Very COVID Christmas

What does Advent have to do with Exodus have to do with COVID? Might our experience of COVID be like the Exodus journey of the Israelites asks the Rev. Jay George of Grace Episcopal Church, San Antonio, in his sermon on the first Sunday of Advent. And what might God be saying to our hearts in this season of Advent about all of it? 

Watch the sermon here.

FROM Grace Episcopal Church, San Antonio

New Life Emerges From The Dark 

Advent is a time of threshold, says the Rev. Mike Marsh, rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Uvalde, Texas. It is a time “that leaves us betwixt and between, neither here nor there. It’s that space between what has been and what will be, the old that is no longer and the new that is not yet, life as it was and life as it might be. It’s the space between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It’s the wilderness between Egypt and the promised land.” 

It’s us in this time of COVID, waiting for some relief from possible vaccines but not knowing when or how or if that will happen and unsure of the result when it does happen. 

Read the sermon from the first Sunday of Advent.

FROM: The Rev. Mike Marsh blog

Redeeming All Brokenness

Diana Butler Bass recalls an old Advent tradition that, she says, seems oddly resonant this year. In earlier times, the four weeks of Advent lifted up theological themes related to endings — death, judgment, heaven, and hell. “As such,” says Bass, “Advent was a season of penitence and warning, of confession and fasting, like a ‘little Lent.’ This reading of Advent emerged in the early Middle Ages, reaching its zenith of spiritual popularity — perhaps not unsurprisingly — in the decades of the Black Death.

“I’m glad that Christians turned away from the grim penitential aspects of Advent’s medieval practice. But something else is true this year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve never thought quite so much about death. About the genuine possibility that COVID might kill me or someone I love — as it has done to more than a million others around the world. 2020 has been a year of both avoiding and facing death. We don’t need penance or repentance — or any other guilt-ridden religious activity. But we surely need to consider what it has meant to be surrounded by a dread of death.”

Read the blog.

What In Your Life Could Use a Fresh Start?

Brother David Vryhof of the Society of St. John the Evangelist sees the connection between this Advent and the pandemic through which we are still living. “While we had hoped that this season of sickness would be short-lived, in reality it has continued to plague us for months beyond the medical community’s initial projections, and though the prospect of a vaccine has shed some light of hope on the road ahead, we have been warned that there is more sickness and death in our immediate future.  So we continue to hold on, doing what we can to curb the spread of the disease, taking care not only of the sufferers but of their caregivers, and of one another, enduring the darkness until the light shines once more.” 

Read the essay, below.

FROM the Society of St John the Evangelist

If you have something to add to Gathered Wisdom, send it to Marjorie George at

Gathered Wisdom is from The Wisdom Years, a ministry that invites older adults to deepening spirituality in the last third of their lives. If someone forwarded this to you, learn more about The Wisdom Years and subscribe to the site at

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