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by James Walker

As I write this short reflection on the eve of the first Sunday of Advent, I find myself in a place of deep gratitude for this season of expectant waiting and hopeful contemplation. Even at this very moment, as I returned from my favorite lunch place where the restaurant staff was removing pumpkins and replacing them with baby Christmas trees and reindeer, I have once again made the conscious decision to not surrender. Advent, yes!

A Prayer for the World

Let the rain come and wash away the ancient grudges,
the bitter hatreds held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that we can see each other clearly,
so that we can see beyond labels, beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness of the sun melt our selfishness,
so that we can share the joys and feel the sorrow of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain, bring forth flowers to
surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts to reach upward to heaven.

— Rabbi Harold S. Kushner (2003)

I first read this prayer by Rabbi Kushner in 2013, when the All Saints Church choirs commissioned Daniel Corral to set it to music, celebrating my 30 years on the ASC staff. After the past few weeks of whirlwind emotions, this prayer resurfaced in my life — at just the right time. Mired in anger, lethargy and hopelessness, I have found this prayer to be a source of strength. For the moment, I have changed the title to “A Prayer for My Country and the World.” Right now, I need some sharp focus.

For me, one of the wonderful gifts of Advent is the carving out space to just be. I am fervently recommitting to my practice of meditation and prayer, and I will start with this prayer. Maybe one sentence a day will be enough to spark my imagination and to pray for a new path.

Let any who wish, put up your Christmas tree and deck your hall (no judgment from me), but I need to remain in the place of deep longing and expectation for a while.

During the Season of Advent, we will offer daily meditations from All Saints Church. Today’s is written by James Walker, Director of Music.

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