Welcoming Peace (Advent Week 2)

Throughout the season of Advent, you may want to create a small sacred space for prayer and quiet. Each week I’ll suggest a small “everyday” item you can add to your space (or carry with you!) to help you reflect on the week’s theme. Find the St. Benedict quotation printable here.


Isaiah 40:1-11 Like a shepherd, God will tend the flock; he will gather lambs in his arms and lift them into his lap. He will gently guide the nursing ewes.

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

2 Peter 3:8-15a But according to his promise we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found by him in peace—pure and faultless.

Mark 1:1-8 (quoting Isaiah 40:3)

Add a placecard to your sacred space. Did you save one as a memento from a wedding, family dinner, or other special event? You can easily DIY one with a small folded card. If your placecard is blank, you may want to write on it: who are you holding a place for this season? An absent friend or family member whose presence brings you peace? Jesus? Or a part of yourself?

How often I’ve wished for a placecard with my name on it.

On the first day in a new school, scared and seeking out a friendly-looking seat in the cafeteria. On the first day in a new church, wondering which pews are “claimed” by the unspoken agreement of regular attenders. I wish there were placecards in life, when we’re trying to discern our gifts or follow our vocation or discover where we fit in communities. It would be such a relief to know: this is where you belong.

Peace comes when we know we’re in the right place; when our presence is expected, even anticipated. When the table has been prepared and there is a place for us.

What would it look like to provide a peace-full welcome this Advent? Who—or what—is missing from your life in this season? Who needs a space at the table? Who needs to feel welcomed, included and anticipated? How can you act as host to someone who needs to know there is a place for them, where they can be at peace?

And—is there a part of you still seeking where you belong, the place where the Shepherd will be able to find you? Are you seeking the place where you are at home?

Welcome, child of presence,
you who made a place for yourself
at this messy mixed-up table of humanity:
from a barnyard feed trough
to a friend’s kitchen table
to a lakeside firepit
you sit with us,
you let us pepper you with questions and
tell you our stories.
you go us one further:
you ask us questions we have not yet dared to answer.
You tell us your own story and then you invite us
to find ourselves in it.

Show us where we belong.

Give us vision to turn to the strangers
gathering around us
and see siblings.

Give us patience to listen to the difficult questions
and impossible stories
hovering in the air
and hear faith.

Give us courage to bring our selves—
to find ourselves—
to be ourselves—
at this messy mixed-up table
that is yours.

Welcome, child of presence, peace-bringer.
We open the door to you!

Study for “The Annunciation” by Kenyan Cox ca. 1905, in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

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