[message_box]God of hope, you call us home from the exile of selfish oppression to the freedom of justice, the balm of healing, and the joy of sharing. Make us strong to join you in your holy work, as friends of strangers and victims, companions of those whom other shun, and as the happiness of those whose hearts are broken. We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [/message_box]

It is easy to become bitter during the season of Advent. After all, they are the ones bombarding us with adverts coyly stating that Jesus is not the reason for the season. Bitterness seeps in when someone is corrected to greet with “Happy Holidays” or, alternatively, when someone else becomes offended due to the overuse of an “X” preceding a “mas”. But animosity can quickly turn into judgment when hope and grace is sorely needed.

The church is called to be the very reflection of Christ and it is hard to believe that Jesus would scorn these same things. Jesus repeatedly pushed back against the Pharisees when he was accused of being too social with the strangers, the shunned and the broken hearted. Jesus knew how to love these people because so often, he was treated as one. To be the reflection of Christ, the church must be willing to let go of their bitterness, embrace grace towards others and be the light in the community. The church God calls must not be afraid to visit the sick or imprisoned, to feed the hungry, to befriend the exiled, or be a champion of orphans and victims of abuse.

Take a moment to reflect on the prayer above. Pray against any self-imposed oppressions and instead to become someone that reflects the Kingdom of God and has a love for hope, peace and justice. May our prayers be the same as the Apostle Paul:

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.”

Romans 10:1


by David Hernandez

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