Dear friends in Christ,

In this first week of Advent, I’ve been thinking a lot about how Jesus came as a baby–tiny, vulnerable, demanding. I wish we had more stories from his childhood and early adulthood. According to Matthew’s Gospel, as a baby, Jesus and his family spent some time in Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath. And Luke gives us one story of Jesus at age twelve, when he was with his family in Jerusalem and got left behind when they left because he was hanging out in the Temple. That’s it; the rest of Jesus’ first 30 years is up to our imagination.

Did Jesus always know he was the Messiah, the promised one? Did Mary and Joseph talk to him about it from birth, or did they try to give him a normal childhood, free from the weight of expectation? Did they worry when he was in his mid-20s and still hadn’t taken up the vocation they knew was his destiny? How long did Jesus hear the call to ministry before he actually went to the Jordan River that day?

I wish we had more stories, because it seems to me that each of us, on our spiritual journey, is somewhere in those growing-up years. We are being nurtured and formed by our families and communities. We are trying to figure out what our purpose is. And if we’re lucky enough to figure that out, we are learning how to live into it.

We may be newborn, needing to be fed and cared for. We may be taking our first steps, needing hands to hold ours and steady us. We may be children, needing help listening for God’s wisdom as we gain independence in the world. We may be adolescents, needing comfort when we experience the pain and brokenness of the world. We may be young adults, needing encouragement when we are confronted with the limits of our own power. We may be mature, needing opportunities to teach and serve so we can continue to grow and thrive.

Wherever you are on your journey, I hope St. Mary’s is a place where you are finding what you need to grow into the fullness of who you are called to be.