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Advent Meditations: Monday, December 17

By Kellaura Johnson

Psalm 41, 52, 44  •  Isaiah 8:16–9:1  •  Luke 22:39–53

Jesus came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief. (Luke 22:45b).

During Advent, the refrains are keep watch and stay awake. Jesus asks us: Why are you sleeping? What if our answer, like the disciples’, is that we sleep because of grief? Not because we’re lazy or tired but because we are worn out by sorrow?

I often counsel folks to get extra sleep when they’re grieving because their souls are doing exhausting work. But I would never suggest sleeping through a funeral or escaping into dreams while your friend prays in anguish a stone’s throw away. Sometimes prayer, presence, and action are required of us. When faced with our own sorrow or with the pain of others, temptation can take the form of both apathy and escape. We can be tempted to fall asleep rather than to remain awake to the pain both within and around us. When we fall asleep, we risk missing this present moment where, through our prayers, presence, and action, we can bear witness to the pain around us and give meaning to the grief within us.

My grieving friends, be gentle with yourselves. Sleep when your soul needs rest, but remember that when you remain awake to the grief, your very watchfulness and presence may soothe those who are hurting around you and, thereby, your own sorrows may be soothed, as well.

Keep us awake to the grief of those around us. Shield us from the temptations of apathy and escape. Jesus, watch with us. Amen.

The Rev. Kellaura Johnson, ’14
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Huntsville, Texas

Listen to Kellaura read her meditation and prayer:


The Rev. Kellaura Johnson is happy to be rector of a church – St. Stephen’s Episcopal in Huntsville, Texas – which has a passion for both prison ministry and college ministry. The only thing Kellaura likes as much as being at church is being at the barn with her horse.

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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