Advent Reflections for 2020 written by the Oblates and Sisters of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine.
“Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love Divine;
Love was born at Christmas, Star and Angels gave the sign.”
When I was a child, my family lived for a time in Soëst, a town in the North Rhine area of western Germany. Though I was only 7 or 8 at the time, my recollections are vivid: cobble-stone streets, timbered houses, a bustling market square, numerous medieval churches, impressive fortifications – even a gate and portcullis! and 6-metre thick stone walls which encircled the town. My first memories of Advent are from that time. We’d bought a fresh bough wreath at the market, fitted with candles, three purple and one pink. There was a scripture reading and short prayer along with the “usual” blessing at our evening meal – and a candle lighting. With our German and Canadian neighbours, we celebrated “Nikolaustag”, St. Nicholas Day, on December 6 – which included a visit to our home by a very tall, rather thin yet jovial Bishop dressed in an elegant blue velvet, fur-lined coat and stocking cap with high leather boots, white gloves and a beautifully carved crozier, dispensing rich German chocolate, oranges, and spicy cookies.
It was during our first Advent in Soest that I received a 45-vinyl record of a children’s choir singing what has since become a kind of anthem for my Advent preparations, “Love Came Down at Christmas”, written in 1885 by Christina Rossetti. Her direct and earnest lyrics capture the simplicity, and the mystery, of the Incarnation: that the very essence of God’s prodigious generosity was made manifest in the humblest of ways – by coming among us. This Divine Love, all encircling, infinite, intimate is freely given.
These daily Advent reflections, written by SSJD Oblates and Sisters, represent our best efforts to describe the indescribable beauty and grace of Divine Love. It is our prayer that these little embers, the lectio of our lives, will provide some insight – a starting place for you to express your own encounter with the “Love all lovely” born at Christmas, for us all.
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