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Advent Meditation: Friday, December 25, 2020By Cynthia Briggs Kittredge
Psalm 97 • Isaiah 62:6-12 • Titus 3:4-7 • Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” The line from the carol written by Phillips Brooks in 1868 touched me deeply as a child, tossed about by the mixed emotions swirling around the holiday, and it resonates with new timbre as the years have piled up. The hopes of the people of Israel kept alive through long years of suffering and nourished even in the pressure of the empire – the hopes and fears of America in the nuclear era in which I came of age and in the current moment of reckoning, our country’s aspirations and anxiety – the hopes and fears tumbled together as my family gathered for dinner or sat in the pew together on Christmas Eve.
Desire and terror, awe and love, coincide here in the bundled child in the manger and among the exhausted shepherds and stunned parents. Here in the birth of Jesus, as God enters into the world, the great fear that underlies all others is overcome, and the true hope that surpasses all other hopes is confirmed and fulfilled. Be here. Calm, bright, and still.
Holy and Loving God,
We give thanks for your love of all the years and pray for your
wisdom in the years to come. Amen.
The Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, ThD
Dean and President and Professor of New Testament
Seminary of the Southwest
Listen to Cynthia read her meditation and prayer:
The Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge is dean and president of Seminary of the Southwest. The focus of Dean Kittredge’s leadership is the formation of Christian leaders in community for the vitality of the church and to advance God’s mission of reconciliation. She believes that critical engagement with scripture, tradition, and context, energized by imagination, and grounded in prayer is the center of formation for mission.
In the wider church, Dean Kittredge is a respected scholar and preacher who teaches and leads retreats on the vital intersection of scripture, spirituality, and preaching for Christian leaders. In her role as dean and president, she continues to form students at Southwest in creative and faithful approaches to biblical studies, early Christian history, Greek reading, and the embodied practice of liturgical leadership.
Dean Kittredge is the eighth dean and president of Seminary of the Southwest. She was appointed in 2013 after serving on the faculty as the Ernest J. Villavaso, Jr. Professor of New Testament and as academic dean. Committed to theological education for the church, Dean Kittredge has served as a member of the Steering Committee for Theological Education in the Anglican Communion, as Chair of the Board of the Episcopal Evangelism Society, and President of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars.
A biblical scholar valued by her colleagues for her insight and generous collegiality, Dean Kittredge is a contributor to The New Oxford Annotated Bible and the Women’s Bible Commentary, and the author of Conversations with Scripture: The Gospel of John and Community and Authority: The Rhetoric of Obedience in the Pauline Tradition. She co-edited The Bible in the Public Square: Reading the Signs of the Times and Walk in the Ways of Wisdom: Essays in Honor of Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza. She is the co-editor of the Fortress Commentary on the Bible: The New Testament (2014).
Fascinated by the interplay of intellect and imagination in the interpretation of scripture, she wrote A Lot of the Way Trees Were Walking: Poems from the Gospel of Mark (Wipf & Stock, 2015).
Prior to joining the seminary faculty in 1999, Dean Kittredge taught at Harvard University and the College of the Holy Cross. She serves as assisting priest at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Austin.
She is married to Frank D. Kittredge, Jr. and they have three grown children.
The Advent Meditations and Prayers are a gift to our seminary community and are made possible through gifts to our Annual Fund. Seminary of the Southwest appreciates the support of its friends, alumni, and the communities around the world that its graduates serve for the glory of God. This support ensures that Southwest, as an institution made of individuals dedicated to service to God and their fellow members of the body of Christ, can continue doing its part to build the body of Christ.
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