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Advent Meditations- Sunday, December 10

By Danielle Tumminio

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Psalms 148, 149, 150; 114, 115; Amos 6:1-14; Luke 1:57-68; 2 Thess. 1:5-12

The birth of John the Baptist is a miracle in the lives of Elizabeth and Zechariah, who thought they could not have children. And yet, there is another miracle also in what happens after John’s birth: Zechariah, unable to speak, finds his tongue freed after he agrees to name the baby John. This name seems to have been Elizabeth’s idea, for which she received criticism because it did not run in the family. Yet, Zechariah supports her decision, and that’s when transformation begins.

I like to believe that Zechariah gained the ability to speak because, in naming John, he boldly allowed his child to live into his true identity, and, as a result, he allowed himself to live into his true identity as a parent. In other words, he freed John from the assumptions of who he was supposed to be—a child named after his father—and thus freed himself.

Our culture names and labels in many ways, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill. Naming injustice can be the first step to ending it. Perpetuating harmful and untrue labels can have devastating consequences. Zechariah’s story reminds us that we must not be afraid to name what we see, and that we are liberated and transformed by naming the truth.

God, help us to name both the injustice and gifts in our world as a way to bring hope and transformation. Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Danielle Hansen
Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology
Director of Field Education


Danielle Hansen is Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and serves as Director of Field Education. Prior arriving at Seminary of the Southwest, she was a lecturer at Yale and Tufts Universities, in addition to serving as chaplain at Groton School and as a parish priest in Lexington, Lincoln, and Quincy, Massachusetts. She is the author of God and Harry Potter at Yale (Unlocking Press, 2010)—which discusses the intersection of Christian theology with the Harry Potter series—and Expecting Jesus (Morehouse, 2014), a series of Advent daily reflections. She is also the co-editor of When Two or Three Are Gathered, an anthology of spiritual vignettes composed by a diversity of individuals throughout The Episcopal Church. In addition to her books, Dr. Hansen has written extensively for publications including Huffington Post and The Guardian about the intersection of popular culture and faith. She is also a member of the Yale Divinity School Alumni Board and serves the national Church as a member of the Board of Examining Chaplains.

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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