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Advent Meditation: Monday, December 3

By Sarah Knoll Sweeney

Psalm 1–4, 7  •  Isaiah 1:10–20  •  Luke 20:1–8

Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority? (Luke 20:2)

Miserably, I begin every day with a news briefing. As a parent, a preacher, and a person, I busy myself to know lots of stuff and things. For the past few years, I’ve lost my former loyalty to most news sources. I haven’t stopped acting on what I know, but I am keenly aware that every storyteller has their motivations.

My faith life is not immune to this stance of suspicion. So, like the elders, the chief priests, and the good old scribes, I sometimes doubt the good news as well as the bad. I can stare at the manger-less creche in my entryway, and think: Yeah, but why’s Mary have to be so meek and mild?

Jesus is not deterred by my super-woke mistrust. He says to the elders, and to me: Keep listening to me. Follow me to the next encounter. At our Advent family dinner table, we light the candles and share how God is using the reading of the day to work on us. This includes our doubts, our dark fear of being wrong, and our fretting that we don’t know enough. Jesus says to the elders, and to us: You’re not ready to trust, but stick around and listen anyway.

As bad and good news surely come, may we watch for how Christ is being born right in our midst, beckoning us with ongoing light.

Mighty God, break through our doubts and dark nights, sending the light and hope of our patient Savior once again. Amen.

The Rev. Sarah Knoll Sweeney
Director of Spiritual Care Education
Seminary of the Southwest

Listen to Sarah read her meditation and prayer:


The Rev. Sarah Knoll Sweeney, director of spiritual care education at Seminary of the Southwest, has served as an ACPE Certified Educator since 2013. After four years at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, she is now full-time with St. Benedict’s Workshop and the Iona Collaborative, working to open a CPE Center at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. She serves as the chair of the Curriculum Committee of the Board of ACPE and coordinator of the ACPE Videoconferencing Educators Community of Practice. She serves on the ACPE Southwest Region Accreditation Committee and on the eight-member Organizational Redesign Implementation Team for the ACPE nationwide association. Since 2014, she has piloted a use of videoconferencing in ACPE that combines in-person and distance learning to serve students whose geographic location or job constraints prevent them from participating in hospital CPE programs that demand heavy on-call schedules. She has developed pastoral-care education programs specifically geared toward Muslim pastoral caregivers and chaplains as well as youth and children’s ministers. She is passionate about interfaith education for spiritual care and about expanding the areas that ACPE serves.

Before becoming a Certified Educator, she served as a school and hospital chaplain in the dioceses of Kansas and Missouri. As a school chaplain, Sarah emphasized the teaching of world religions, ethics, and sexuality education. Her undergraduate degree is in religious studies from the University of Kansas; her Master of Divinity is from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, California. Sarah has enjoyed serving the church at national and diocesan levels, as a three-time General Convention deputy, past member of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Presiding Bishop, and past member of her diocesan board of examining chaplains. She is certified to teach Our Whole Lives, a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum at levels from kindergarten to 12th grade.

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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