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Advent Meditations- Monday, December 25

By Cynthia Briggs Kittredge

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Psalm 2, 85; 110:1-5(6-7), 132; Micah 4:1-5; 5:2-4; 1 John 4:7-16; John 3:31-36

“And Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
–Luke 2:19

As Advent comes to a close with the birth of Jesus, I think about the event when Word becomes flesh through the eyes of the mother who bears the child. Luke uses the verb “ponder” to describe Mary’s response to “all these things.” If waiting and anticipating, hoping and fearing are the postures of Advent, perhaps “pondering” might be the invitation of Christmas Day. As Jesus’ mother does, ponder the simple miracle of human birth. Ponder the census, the manger, the angels and shepherds, all these extraordinary signs. Ponder the mystery of God’s incarnation, coming into flesh and the divine spirit su using and irradiating all of the material world. The Greek, sumballo, “throw together” might be the english version of “turn over and over” in your mind. Surely we are drawn like Mary to look upon the holy child from every angle again and again on the night of his birth. The origin of the english word “ponder” has to do with weight, and the birth we contemplate is “important,” “deep,” and “heavy,” To ponder is to look on the present and to turn toward the future. Today we wonder at the fragility of this child. We ponder the gift and the risk of human life and we give thanks.

Holy and Loving God, thank you for the birth of this holy child, for the faith of his parents and for the love of God. Amen.

The Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, ThD
Dean & President and Professor of New Testament

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 Johnand 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.

Advent Meditations is a gift to our seminary community and 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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