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With the end of the semester–deep in final papers and exams, set about by seemingly a thousand demands–I needed the simplicity of this prayer. Perhaps you might, too.

Advent Prayer
By Henri J.M. Nouwen

Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
Send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Amen.

Jennifer L. Holberg

I’ve taught English at Calvin College since 1998–where I get to read books and talk about them for a living. What could be better? Along with my wonderful colleague, Jane Zwart, I am the co-director of the Calvin Center for Faith and Writing, which is the home of the Festival of Faith and Writing as well as a number of other exciting endeavors. Given my interest in teaching, I’m the founding co-editor of the Duke University Press journal Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition and Culture (and yes, I realize that that is a very long subtitle). As an Army brat, I’ve never lived anywhere as long as I’ve now lived in Grand Rapids, a city I've come to love. I count myself rich in friends and family. I collect cookbooks (and also like to cook), listen to all kinds of music, and watch all manner of movies and tv shows. I love George Eliot, Jane Austen, Marilynne Robinson, Dante, E.M. Delafield, Tennyson, Hopkins, and Charlotte Bronte (among others). And I used to have a bumper sticker on my car that said: “I’d rather be reading Flannery O’Connor.” I don't have the car anymore, but the sentiment is still true.

2 Comments

  • Daniel J Meeter says:

    If professors think grading exams and papers make barriers against the real presence of the Lord Jesus in their lives, I can say that pastors have it as least as bad, ironically. We who are called to bring the Word of God in sermons these next few days and who are engaged to design and manage worship services of special complexity often find that these very tasks, while serving others, are obstacles to our own souls. We are forced to become Marthas in order to serve our Marys. So I thank you for this prayer by Nouwen, asking for the Holy Spirit’s presence precisely in our preparations.

  • Willa Brown says:

    Thank you, Jennifer, for posting this beautiful prayer by Henry Nouwen. It is just what I needed today.

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