Friday – December 4
Psalms 16, 17; Amos 5:1-17; Matthew 22:1-14
Listen to the author read their mediation and prayer:
The Rev. Kathleen Sams Russell Advent Meditation
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 9:10
“A life lived in fear is a life half lived.” Strictly Ballroom, 1992
Today’s readings from Amos and Matthew speak to the consequences of the paths people take. Amos’ lamentation over the house of Israel is an inventory of sins, choices made to turn away from God and God’s ways. The result is wailing and mourning. In Jesus’ parable of the wedding banquet, a frustrated and angry king throws out a guest who decided to come as he was. The result is weeping and gnashing of teeth. If we take seriously the idea that Amos is speaking to us, and not just to some other people from long ago, and that the banquet guest is more than a literary device, but is instead each of us invited to the supper of the Lamb, then the appropriate response is fear: fear of justice and judgment, fear of being excluded from the kingdom, and fear of misreading what is being asked of us.
The spiritual challenge before us as we enter this Advent season is to be honest about the fear that bubbles up when we admit that we are fallible human beings who sin as individuals and as communities and who all too often fail to wear the garment of righteousness. But then to realize that we have been invited to live a life of faith not in fear, but in the fullness of grace, grace once given in the Christ Child, grace now given through the Spirit.
Merciful God, fill our hearts with gratitude that we may embrace your love & live for your glory & for the care of the world. Amen.
The Rev. Kathleen Sams Russell, DMin
Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology
SEMINARY OF THE SOUTHWEST
The Rev. Kathleen Sams Russell, D.Min. is Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology at the Seminary of the Southwest. 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.