Readings: Psalm 34:9-14, Colossians 1:11-20, John 6:57-63

It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. [John 6:64]

I remember the moment of my mother’s death. In that one final moment, she exhaled and never inhaled again. With that final breath, her essence was gone. The contrast from one moment to the next was quiet, but dramatic. All that remained on that hospital bed were her flesh and bones. Her spirit—feisty, always open to new information, smart and the loving epicenter of our world—had moved on.

Though Jesus is still physically present in today’s gospel, he is preparing his followers for the time when his body will be gone; for the time when he will transition from Jesus of Nazareth to The Christ whose coming we continue to celebrate in a few weeks. The church year gives us Advent, a time to reflect more deeply on how Christ continues to come again in our individual lives and in the life of our world.

Whose voices are prophetic at this point in time? Do the voices of these prophets make me uncomfortable?

At this darkest time of the year (on so many levels), where do I see embers of light? How am I called to fan those embers?

What difference does the coming of Christ make in my life?

We are bombarded by so many voices: opening statements, hearings, debates, analyses. Does the eternal coming of Christ have any impact on how I sort through all these voices? Or do I put Christ in a box labeled “Sunday” and then proceed to put business practices, relationships, politics and ethics in discreet boxes of their own? Is the spirit of Christ the guiding force in all my life? In today’s gospel reading, we get an important point of reference for answering this question: It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Do my thoughts/words/actions bring life to those around me? Does the moral tenor of a conversation rise if I am part of that group? Do I behave honestly and with integrity (and require the same from others)? Are those in need better served because I am part of their community? Are children safer because of my vote?

God of life, fill us with your spirit. Guide us in honestly examining our lives during this Advent season that we may more clearly see your light and continue as bearers of that light. Open our hearts and minds to all opportunities to nurture life. We ask this through Christ, who came to bring us life.