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Advent Meditations: Sunday, December 23

By Javier Alanis

Psalm 24, 29, 8, 84  •  Isaiah 42:1–12  •  John 3:16–21

On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we draw near to the celebration of the birth of the Christ. We anticipate the joyful good news that will accompany the birth in a couple of days. John sums it up in the verse we all learned in Sunday school: “For God so loved the world that God gave the only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (3:16).

But there is a caveat to this generosity in the gospel that adds a tension we may have missed in our youth. The verses that follow indicate that those who live this truth will live in the light, but those who do not live it live in darkness and are condemned.

Church history teaches us to hold this tension in check, for at times, the church has been guilty of cultural and theological violence against those who do not share our belief system. At times, the church has been called to account for its errors in failing to love its neighbor with the same kind of prodigal love expressed in John 3:16. The church has a shadow side: we do not always live only in the light, but in the tension of light and darkness. We are saints and sinners with a blind spot. On this Sunday, we are invited to prepare ourselves for his coming by an examination of conscience, that we might live the truth of his love for all people.

Savior of the world, cleanse me from all unrighteousness that I may live the truth of your love for all people. Amen.

The Rev. Javier “Jay” Alanis, PhD, JD, ’92
Executive Director/Associate Professor of Theology, Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest
Adjunct Faculty – Senior Instructor
Seminary of the Southwest

Listen to Jay read his meditation and prayer:


The Rev. Javier “Jay” Alanis was appointed interim executive director of the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest (LSPS) in July 2009. Prior to that, he had been associate professor of theology, culture and mission, as well as associate academic dean. His academic interests include liberation theology and ethics from the underside of history; missiology in a multicultural context; and peace and justice concerns as they relate to the role of the church in society, and in particular along the U.S.-Mexican border. He has a particular interest in Hispanic/Latino theology and ethics and the contribution that U.S. liberation theologians bring to the theological round table. He also brings with him training in spiritual direction and formation as a discipline and model for the spiritual life and the vocational discernment process. After graduation from LSPS in 1992, he served as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in San Antonio for four years. During that time he chaired the Southwestern Texas Synod’s Multicultural Committee and Anti-Racism Team. He has written numerous articles on the image of God from a Hispanic/Latino perspective and is currently working on a borderlands hermeneutics as a lens for understanding and interpreting the ethical response to migration.

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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