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By Advent Meditations and Prayers 2014

Psalm 31; Isaiah 7: 10-25; Luke 22: 14-30

One of the most powerful liturgical gestures in the rite of Holy Communion is the fraction, the moment when the
priest takes the consecrated bread in hand and breaks it in half in the midst of the gathered faithful. The liturgy cannot fulfill its reason for being unless and until this happens. Only then can the bread be shared and we may fully partake of the sacrament and “wade in a sea of comfort and joy,” as Richard Hooker once put it. This gesture of breaking bread, so simple and so common whenever people share a meal, carries a depth of meaning as it rehearses the gestures that Jesus made at that holy meal and the gesture so essential to his reason for being and our salvation—the offering of himself for us, his body broken on a cross. “This is my Body, which is given for you.”Luke’s recounting of this sublime and momentous event has a gritty reality to it. The horizon of joy recedes in the face of imminent betrayal and terrible suffering, and as the passage continues, the very fractiousness of the gathered faithful. These who receive a gift so wonderful can only contend for their own glory, leaving Jesus to remind them again that discipleship is about serving not being served, about giving and not receiving. To be partakers of the holy, to wade in a sea of comfort and joy, to receive the gift of grace—all of this calls us to a life of humility, gratitude and the offering of ourselves to God and the world. Let us keep the feast.

Oh, Jesus Christ, Holy broken one,
Given in love, giver of grace,
Be with us in our broken lives and broken hearts,
In our fractious and fractured communities,
Bind us together and heal our wounded souls and selves.
Feed us with your love that our lives may be servants
of the holy.


The Rev. Kathleen Sams Russell, DMin
Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology
Joe and Jessie Crump Chair in Cultural Research
Seminary of the Southwest



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Professor Russell brought a range of chaplaincy, parish, and social justice ministry to Seminary of the Southwest when she joined its faculty in 2005. She has taught in many settings—parishes, programs of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), workshops in diocesan settings and other small groups. She supervised CPE students at the Center for Urban Ministry in San Diego and the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Her areas of expertise include theological reflection and integration, pastoral care, vocational development in the context of human growth and personality, and crisis ministry and intervention. Before coming to Austin, she served three years as acting rector of a San Diego church where she helped the vestry and parishioners through a period of crisis and transition. Prior to ordination, she organized retired and disabled textile workers in South Carolina in the late 1970s and early 80s. Christian nurture was the concentration for her recently awarded Doctor of Ministry degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

B.A., Daemen College. M.Div., Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. D.Min., Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.


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