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Advent Meditations: Tuesday, December 25

By Cynthia Briggs Kittredge

Christmas Day

Psalm 66, 67, 116, 117  •  Isaiah 11:10–16  •  Luke 1:5–25

A stable lamp is lighted whose glow shall wake the sky;
the stars shall bend their voices, and every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry, and straw like gold shall shine;
a barn shall harbour heaven, a stall become a shrine.

Just after dawn, the pilgrims from Texas arrived at the Shepherds’ Field outside of Bethlehem. Jane Patterson, John Lewis, and our guide, Iyad Qumri, sought out locations that were off the well-trod track, and at an early hour, before the crowds. We found the cave, and one by one, we crawled through its narrow opening. It came to pass that the cave’s electric wiring had gone out, so we huddled in the cool dampness, crouched on rock seats together in the dark, until one or two of us turned on our iPhone flashlights. It was a place this bare and unequipped where Mary bore Jesus and where she and Joseph first cradled him. It was this impoverished world that Jesus was born to redeem. As we sang the words of the carol by the poet Richard Wilbur, we saw each other’s faces shining in the dim light. Later that day we would visit the Church of the Holy Nativity, the traditional site of Jesus’ birth, but it was this circle, twinkling in the dark, that I remember as the shrine of the incarnation.

Holy God, we thank you for your mercy and love and for the gift of your child, born in poverty and danger. Amen.

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

Listen to Cynthia read her meditation and prayer:


The Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, ThD, is dean and president of Seminary of the Southwest. 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 John and 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.

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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