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Steps to a Calmer, More Christ-focused Advent

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The word ‘advent’ comes from ‘ad’ meaning ‘to’ and from ‘vent,’ a form of a Latin word meaning ‘coming.’ Advent is the season when Christians look back on the first advent, or coming, of Messiah, and we look forward to the second advent-his return. New Year’s Day in the church year, which follows the life and ministry of our Lord, begins this year on December 1-the day many Christians count as the first day of Advent. During the four weeks leading up to Christmas, a lot of churches observe Advent as a season of expectant waiting and the preparation of our hearts.

Two millennia ago as Israel awaited the Messiah, Herod—the kind of guy who ordered the killing of his own son— sat on the throne in Judea. Roman soldiers occupied Palestine and squished the slightest hint of uprising with violence. In that world scores of people who committed crimes …

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Pietà

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Some say men lack some innate quality that makes them loners—that women excel at friendship, while men eschew community.

Nicodemus comes by day equipped with tools. He steels himself to pry loose nails from palms and feet.

The Arimathean accompanies him. The new tomb he consigned for his own he offers to the family of his friend.

They stand with the Marys, unashamed of tears. Real men who cry. Not even from among the 12.

Blood spurts onto their hands and stains swaddling cloth. Strips of flesh on his back make them grimace.

They still reel from the acts of the treasurer—the betrayer. The ransom for this king, a little silver.

The 12 have run. But these on the periphery for three years remain. Nicodemus tastes salt; Joseph wipes his eyes. They pry the Magdalene away so they can wrap the arch she cradles. Now they must pull away the …

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