2022 Advent Devotional

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As we journey together through the coming season of Advent 2022, you are especially invited to join us for a series of devotionals, carefully crafted by members of our very own community. Each week of Advent, we will question together how we have been led with, and how we can lead with, hope, peace, joy, and love.

During different seasons of the liturgical year, Andover Newton faculty, staff, students, trustees, and alumni/ae come together to create contemplative opportunities to reflect on these seasons and the contemporary times in which they unfold. As individuals, we are never the same person this season that we were as we traversed this season in years past. The same is true for communities. Therefore, members of Andover Newton’s extended family contribute to new devotionals in a variety of ways, using a variety of media, in order to capture glimpses of the spirit in a particular moment or sacred place. 

In waiting, we find Hope.

In stillness, we find Peace.

In togetherness, we find Love.

In mystery, we find Joy.

Posts will originate on Facebook (@andovernewton) and Instagram (@Andover_Newton) and will then be curated together on our website. We hope that you’ll find this creative path filled with sustenance, diverse interpretations, and loving guides.

Reflections for Advent 2022

video introduction to the series…

advent reflection for november 27, 2022 by Third year student Christine Geeding

“How lightly we learn to hold hope, as if it were an animal that could bite your hand. And still we carry it the way a mother would, carefully, from one day to the next. And still, we hope.” 

“Hope is the hardest love we carry.” 

“That’s what’s so gorgeous about humanity. We lean into love in the most hideous circumstances. We manage to hope. Maybe you don’t even say it for yourself. Maybe you move your mouth like everyone moves their mouth. Maybe your mouth is the same mouth as everyone’s, all trying to say the same thing.” 

“Hope in the moment feels like a spiral. But in the end, it looks like… it is… growth.” 

“Because of you, each day is a melon slice, smelling sweetly of earth. Thanks to you I live on the honey of hope.” 

Lameris, D. (2014). Insha’Alla. In The moons of August: Poems. essay, Autumn House Press.

Limón, Ada. (2022). The Same Thing. In Hurting kind. essay, Milkweed Editions.

Hikmet, N., Blasing, R., & Blasing, M. K. (2010). Because of You. In Poems of Nazim Hikmet. essay, W.W. Norton.

Hirshfield, J. (1997). Hope and Love. In The lives of the heart. essay, Harper Perennial.

Karr, M. (2016). The Art of Memoir. Harper Perennial.

advent reflection for november 29, 2022 by First Year student Sarah Graves

“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:24-25

And a poetic reflection on Hope:

I am anxious today thinking:

I have not prayed 

hard enough,

often enough,

earnestly enough.

The quiet voice asks if any of this matters to God,

who knows my heart and its intentions.

On the highway driving north at dusk,

the lights on outstretched steel arms

are blinking on and off

for no apparent reason.

The horizon is glowing peach 

beyond the trees,

which reach up from the earth,

their branches like the opposite of lightning:

darkened cracks in the sky.

A tree is a spark of energy that endures,


marking each year 

with a fresh faint ring.

There are no clouds in the bloodstained sky;

I suspect because the air is too thin and cold to

gather any moisture.

I feel unable to hold onto anything either.

Even the pulsing highway lights

were once a mixture of vapor.

In the woods this morning I found an uprooted tree

fallen to rest on the forest floor,

nearly covered with leaves in rust and dimmed gold.

I embraced the trunk to pull myself up, 

and then lay back, 

the length of my spine pressed to the ridged bark.

Feeling kinship with something uprooted, 

I found myself thinking that when I have fallen, 

and I am unable to reach up to the sky,

I can still rest on my back

and look up. 


advent reflection for December 3rd, 2022 by Greg Mobley, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Congregational Studies at Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School
One of my favorite stories about hope is from a comic book! But in the current cultural moment, the genre has been rechristened as a “graphic novel.” In print form, it appears in Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman,” a DC comic series that ran from the late 1980’s into the mid-90’s. Gaiman sketched a scene in which his protagonist, the Sandman, the Lord of Dreams, faces off in a high-stakes verbal duel with a demon named Choronzon.
What are the stakes? If I tried to explain, it would sound, simultaneously, overly complicated and unbelievably simple-minded. Let’s just say that in the Sandman universe this battle of words is REALLY IMPORTANT.
In 2022, HBO produced a long-form television version of The Sandman and included this scene, only the identity of Sandman’s rival was changed from a mere demon to none other than the devil incarnate, Lucifer Morningstar, played here by Gwendoline Christie (”Game of Thrones”).
Watch it below to see a tale about undefeatable hope.

Please connect to copyright information here.

advent reflection for december 4th, 2022 by Rev. JaQuan Beachem, Director of Community Development and Spiritual Formation at andover newton seminary at yale divinity school

Media licensed by CanvaPro.

For it is in stillness that we find peace


Peace can be precarious 

Deemed counterproductive,

too bold

perhaps for a perceived fragile world, 

one that place head over heart. 


Peace can be elusive

purportedly disappeared when dormant.

Still, peace, is not meant to be swatted or seized, but savored. 


Peace: an innate invitation 

an offering into the wells of being 

sustaining us through our wildernesses.

Try not to rush or force,

acknowledge instead. 


For it is in stillness that we find peace


Peace moves, too, though. 

Buoyant, embodied and content. 

Requiring attention & cultivation 

conscious praxis

as gardens do.



atomic — bouncing about at its own pace, making one feel as though it is impossible to grasp. 

Peace, the practice that we cling to in chaos, piercing through the ignorance and violence that surrounds. 


Peace abounds in the noise, 

sophisticated and sound

resonating and reverberating from within. 

Calling one inward just to shine outward. 


Peace that combats fear

exchanging with our desires of hope, joy, and love. 

Peace calms & centers, claiming our focus 

Setting our sights on the Holy One

so that we may see the divine in all. 


Peace connects us with the One who practiced in the face of storms, temptations and trials.


Even amidst these things, 

we utter the name of the Divine 

recalibrating with an inhalation and exhalation

to allow light and life to pour in. 




never abandoning,

a miracle 

in and of itself, 

brings us back 

every time 

to pneuma

every time 

to our breath 

every time 

to ourselves

our belonging

every time 


every time 


us to our divinity

every time. 


Behold, for if it is truly in stillness that we find peace; then, may we continue discovering ways to protect this gift of grace — time and time again, season after season. 

advent reflection for december 6th, 2022 by 1st Year M.Div. and Andover Newton Diploma Student, Courtney Esteves

During the pandemic, I have said (and signed) the word “peace” more than most other words that make up my daily vocabulary. With this repetition, I’ve at times forgotten the power of this five-letter word. In my more mindful moments, however, I’ve learned that peace must be co-created, which often involves friction. 

 a white ceramic dove with the word “Peace” written in black paint created by a Core Member of L’Arche Jacksonville}Living in a L’Arche community last year alongside adults with and without intellectual disabilities, I found a home in a place named “Peace House.” I learned with my housemates that peace must be created in community through daily decisions of caring for oneself and one’s neighbors. 

Teaching in a religious school two years ago, I practiced a “liturgical gesture” that could allow my students and me to share a “sign of peace” during Zoom Chapel. This gesture involved rubbing one’s hands against one another before offering the peace sign from the direction of one’s heart. In reflecting on this gesture, my students and I discussed how friction and effort can be necessary elements of peace-making. 

Although I no longer am living in Peace House nor sharing the gesture for peace with students over Zoom, I hope to keep peace at the tip of my tongue and forefront of my actions. 

This Advent, how might your words and gestures reflect a spirit of peace-making in and beyond wherever you call home? 

{Image description: a white ceramic dove with the word “Peace” written in black paint created by a Core Member of L’Arche Jacksonville}

advent reflection for december 9th, 2022 by 1st year m.div. and andover newton diploma student, Ali Hager
The winter light is coming through my window,
Which means it’s time for Advent.
Advent for me is about waiting in the quiet of the night.
In our hemisphere, especially this far north,
The days are short, the nights are long.
And today, it’s really cold.
This week, the 2nd week of Advent, we work to cultivate Peace.
But for me to lead with peace; to walk, talk, or act in peace;
I first have to practice peace within myself.
The cold and the dark help lead me into stillness.
Life is dormant outside my window.
It’s not dead… not at all.
There are miracles of biology under that frozen ground…
Life awaits. And so does Mary. “Here am I,” she says. And she waits. 
Just after she learns that she will bear God’s son,
She says to God’s angel, “Here am I, servant of the Lord.
Let it be with me according to your word.”
Will you take a moment to practice peace with me?
You can do this anywhere: on the train, while you’re out walking in the cold,
Alone in your bedroom.
Notice your breath. Don’t try to control it at all.
Just notice your body breathing. Another miracle of biology.
Notice how you feel in this moment.
Are you agitated, anxious, tired, lonely, excited, afraid?
However you feel, your body still breathes, in and out,
From one breath to the next.
Our feelings - my feelings - change in time, and our bodies still breathe.
Wherever I am today, however I feel in this moment,
I wait with Mary. I hear her words. “Here am I,” she says.
Even in the midst of her fear and uncertainty,
I connect with the peace Mary finds in acceptance of God’s plan for her.
There’s no easy path to peace, but for me,
Acceptance of God’s mystery is a good place to start.
So I join my words with Mary. You can join too, if you’d like.
“Here am I, God. Here am I.”
May you find peace in God’s mystery,
Today and throughout the Advent season.

advent reflection for december 11th, 2022 by 3rd year m.div. and andover newton diploma student, Lydia Hoffman

Media licensed by CanvaPro.

A love letter to nature
Dear Mother, Father, Parent, Holy other
who lies within the ground
and in the air
under our feet
and within our breath
dear nature, dear trees, dear d i r t.
It is from you we come, and from you we receive love.
starting as only seeds, lost in the dry sand
you fill us with life, with water, making a muddy mess of it all.
Dear loving creation,
what a gift it is to live among you.
It is you who shows us the way.
guiding us with your tall branches, and holding us with your soft grassy touch
dear living, breathing, holy other.
I see you, I know you are there.
You lead me, you guide my feet
barefoot as they step on your mossy self
dear nature,
I am sorry we have not loved you better
I am sorry we have not held you as you have held us
dear nature,
you are so resilient. teach us to do the same.
teach us to love our leafless selves
just as much as we love our full and green selves.
dear nature.
I love you. I worship you.
I give you thanks for all that you show me, and teach me.
You hold me in the palm of your hand, and you never let me go.
I cannot escape you
even if I tried
you would find me
you would never leave me
dear nature, I hope to see you soon
I can’t wait to visit with you
I hope to be like you some day
dear nature, I hope to be just like you when I grow up.
Thank you, nature. For leading the way.

advent reflection for december 13th, 2022 by 4th year m.div. and andover newton diploma student, Sarah Menard

Musical Offering: “No Fear In Love” - Steffany Gretzinger   - The UNDOING ℗ 2014 Bethel Music -  Released on: 2014-08-26

Video Offering:

A Reflection From Sarah:

“To lead with love is to lean not on my own understanding but to trust God with the different paths of leadership I find myself on. This video shows a place I recently saw while on a trail. In this season of Advent I am reminded that leading with love requires a space and place for rest and prayer. Rest is an act of worship because it demonstrates trust in the God of love and prayer as a language and act of love for others. It is good to rest and pray. This place in the woods of CT is reflective of the ways I lead with love.” 

advent reflection for december 16th, 2022. Event curated by 3rd Year M.Div. Oliver Mesmer and Director of Community Development and Spiritual Formation 

For today’s Advent Reflection, we present memories from the recent “Day of Balance” hosted at Yale Divinity School on Friday, December 9th. This event was curated by 3rd Year M.Div. and ANS Diploma student, Oliver Mesmer and our Director of Community Development and Spiritual Formation, JaQuan Beachem. Students enjoyed coffee and baked goods, communion at the labyrinth with Dean Ned Parker, a community listening exercise, a yoga meditation, and a fireside singalong.

As you Lead with Love, remember to love yourself as well. 
… take things slow
… listen with the heart
… remember your breath
… find peace in stillness
… fill your cup.

advent reflection for december 18th, 2022 by Sarah B. Drummond, Founding Dean of Andover NEwton Seminary at Yale Divinity School

“When was the last time you underestimated yourself? I have no shortage of examples, but I choose to focus on how much JOY I find in proving myself wrong.

I used to think that having a dog was, well, stupid. Who has the time? Who wants to be tied down? I didn’t dislike dogs, I just called myself a cat person and put the idea of a dog out of my mind.

When my daughter was entering the eighth grade, she pointed out that she would *never* have had a childhood dog if we didn’t get one soon. I saw no problem with that, but she reminded me of promises proffered in weak moments. I talked with my mother, who I thought would take my side. She didn’t, and what she did say, I’ll never forget: “Dogs can bring a family a lot of joy.”

I went along with adopting Bailey five years ago because he was of an age where I figured he’d die about when JJ was leaving for college, setting me free once again. Within six months, Bailey was sleeping with me on my side of the bed. Under the covers. So much for “a cat person.”

We adopted Moxie in March, as I was terrified of losing Bailey (who’s alive and well, thank you) and not having another dog to cuddle. Moxie’s joy is hypnotic, infectious, unending. She tries to play with everyone she meets. Her earnest expression and crooked teeth make me think of what Eleanor Roosevelt would have looked like as a dog, but she lacks Eleanor’s diplomacy (as our four cats, who don’t define “play” the same way Moxie does, can attest).

Joy isn’t complicated, and it’s not to be ignored.

Just like the children’s game, where one guides another to a hidden object with the words, “Getting warmer… getting colder… getting warmer…” Our joy is God’s language for, “Getting warmer.” Jesus is coming; he’s so close! Keep going!”

advent reflection for december 20th, 2022 by Lauren Scott, 3rd Year M.Div. and Andover Newton Diploma Student

As it turns out, I apparently have very strong opinions about Mary, Mother of Jesus. This past semester I took a class on the Cult of Mary, with Prof. Marinis and Harley, and this is where I found out my passion for Mary, specifically as she’s depicted in the annunciation in Byzantine art. According to the Protevangelion of James, Mary receives the honor of spinning purple wool to make a new veil for the temple through the casting of lots.
In many Byzantine annunciation scenes, She is depicted as spinning this yarn and weaving while Angel Gabriel is announcing her miraculous conception, and curiously, throughout much of the nativity scenes, she is making the cloth that will inevitably swaddle Christ. In my nativity scene, you will see Mary and Jesus connected by one purple thread, imitating these images. The dye of Mary’s wool is Tyrian Purple, a color reserved for royalty which is incredibly labor intensive to make, but its importance goes well beyond that. To the Byzantines, this purple would have looked similar to the color of blood, and this yarn served as an allusion for Jesus’ eventual death on the cross. Mary knows what is to come, yet chooses to continue her weaving of Christ. She chooses to celebrate her child with the magnificat. She welcomes him with joy, knowing the pain, trauma and suffering that is about to ensue.
I struggle deeply with anxiety, as many of us do and oftentimes play out the worst case scenarios in my head over and over again. I frequently feel like I “know” what is going to happen, including all the potential tragedies that are about to unfold around me in my distorted imaginary future. What does it mean to choose joy amidst it, and even despite it? For me it looks like working with fiber arts to create something new to share with others. As we head towards Christmas, what does it look like for us to continue Mary’s project in the face of deep uncertainty and anxieties? What does it mean to weave ourselves joyfully into the tapestry of Christ’s community? 

advent reflection for december 23rd, 2022 by 3rd year m.div. and andover newton diploma student, Natalie Owens-Pike

Romans 12:12: 

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” 

From Natalie…

I find this such an audacious task: to find JOY in the waiting. Even when the waiting is hard. 

Waiting to hear back about that news 

Waiting for the wounds to heal 

Waiting to see justice in our world. 

Waiting through the birthing pangs for the child to arrive. 

As we cross the threshold of the Winter Solstice in this week of joy, we welcome, minute by precious minute, the advent of lengthening light. But first, we must experience the longest night of the year, the longest stretch of darkness in our calendar. The quiet waiting. We prepare for the arrival of the light of God in the birth of Christ by waiting in the dark. 

May whatever darkness, whatever waiting, which envelops you now, be a stillness that allows you to see by other dimmer lights: the light of the fireflies in August, surprising and delighting us with their tiny glowing rumps… the faint light of constellations only known to us when the sun is gone… the candlelights of a dinner party with friends… 

May whatever long night you have ahead be cloaked in the joy of discovering what we can still see by night. 

May we find Joy in the waiting, in the expectation of God’s presence! 

advent reflection for december 24th, 2022 by 3rd year m.div. and andover newton diploma student, Jamal Davis Neal, Jr. 

I think that, in the past, it has become easy for me to think about ways that I lead–by encouraging people to come to the annual Tree Trimming YDS hosts each year, or by planning a birthday 6+ months in advance, but I need to remember to attune myself to ways I am lead by joy as well. I need to be intentional about reflecting upon the things that I control and the ways other people show up purposefully in my life. 
These photos show me being a leader, yes, but they also see me surrounded by my community. They are each from my birthday week at the beginning of the month, a time when communities of mine, near and far, came to celebrate with me for my 25th birthday. These are folks from each walk of my life: The top two photos show me as Santa on a bright joyous Tree Trimming Day and me with my Yale Bestie, Tone as we celebrate mine (12/2) and his (12/3) birthday together. The middle photo is me with my mother and older cousin. The bottom left shows me with the folks I did AmeriCorps between grad school and undergrad, and the bottom right shows folks that have loved me since undergrad. 
These communities of folks and the smiles and laughs we get to share together is why I do what I do… their wisdom, their humor, their warmth, their passion, and their love fill me with immense gratitude and allows me to have capacity to continuously choose joy in all that I do. I am grateful to have this privilege to choose, and I am grateful to have a number of folks in my corner ready to love me in all seasons of my life; ready to continue on this journey together. I pray, during this season of finding light in darkness, you have or are able to find the same. May it be so.”

advent reflection for december 25th, 2022 by the Associate Dean For institutional Advancement, Ned Allyn Parker

Luke 2:10 – “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people…’”

Acts 2:16&17a – “No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…’”

Luke 17: 21b – “For, in fact, the kingdom of God is within you.”

“What if?”

After the four weeks of Advent – after lighting the candles of hope, peace, love, and joy – we light the Christ candle, illuminating God’s entrance into the world through the birth of Jesus.

Jesus is also called Emmanuel, God with us.

But, what if…? What if this is not the divine delineation of a single moment, but one more reminder that God is not only with us but within us?

If that were the case, then Christmas would not only be a celebration of God’s entrance into our world but a celebration of God’s entrance into our world through our own presence in it. After all: “the Spirit will be poured out on all flesh.” Could it not also be “all flesh” that reminds us of this divine presence of love within and around, embracing, inspiring, and illuminating – like the Advent candles that illuminate our path on this sacred journey?

Imagine the impact it would have on the world if we recognized the presence of the divine in all…

As we contemplate “leading with love” this semester, we have reflected on the ‘what,’ the ‘why,’ and the ‘who,’ but we have not reflected on the ‘where.’ When we are leading with love, where are we leading people to? Perhaps we are leading them inward – to that place where they find their most authentic selves looking back; to that place where they see the kingdom of heaven within; to that place where Jesus points; to that place where the candles of Advent burn with their brightest intensity.

May it be so.

Merry Christmas.