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CSA’s free weekly publication, a carefully curated collection of original articles at the intersection of spiritual formation and social action.


By Scott Erickson

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
Luke 2:8

Divine revelation will come to you today through unexpected avenues you’ve probably ignored.

Advent Longing

By Jennifer Carpenter

I think it’s fair to say that Christmas in the United States is mostly a commercialized experience around themed decorations, gifts, and traditions.  We know from history that the holiday itself was created by hijacking a pagan holiday (winter solstice) and making it “Christian.”

What if—since we’re all in a forced “new normal” this year—we focused on Advent instead?

Advent Challenge: Stage a Revolution at Christmas Dinner

By David Michaux

The Magnificat has revolutionary teeth.
In many traditions, the pink and fourth candle on the advent wreath represents Mary, the mother of Jesus; and the candle is revolutionary. Mary deserves her own candle–she did birth the Savior of the world, after all.

Celebrating the Girl Who Did Something Unthinkable

By Nikki Toyama-Szeto

My friend’s family has a tradition that on someone’s birthday, they celebrate their mother. That totally makes sense to me. As momentous as a birthday is, truly it was the mother who was doing most of the work that day.

God With Us: A Modern Christmas Tale

By Kevin D. Hendricks

We’re overcompensating for the whole manger thing, hoping Jesus won’t hold it against us.

Christmas has never made much sense to me. It centers on the little baby Jesus, born into a world of nothing, so we celebrate with overabundance, presents, and goodies and decorations festooning every nook and cranny starting the day after Halloween.

Waiting, For Now

By Alfred Delp


Advent is the time of promise; it is not yet the time of fulfillment. We are still in the midst of everything and in the logical inexorability and relentlessness of destiny.

A Letter to Boy, Age Seven

By Elrena Evans


Merry Christmas!

I picked your card off the Christmas tree in my church because I have three boys of my own—two older than you and one younger—and I thought they might be able to help me pick out a present for you.

On Break-Ins and Broken Hearts: An Advent Reflection

By Kristyn Komarnicki

We love movies about clever heists, where high-tech and highly organized thieves outwit security systems and break into “uncrackable” safes. We thrill to scenes of Cary Grant scaling rooftops in Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, warming to the lovable cat burglar’s idiosyncratic character.

God’s Strange Art

By Makoto Fujimura

A teenage girl claims an angel told her she’d have a virgin birth. Her fiancé is hesitant to believe her. She gives birth in a stable. The people who come to visit are not family members but shepherds—the most humble people of the time, like today’s garbage collectors.

La Posada Sin Fronteras: Mary and Joseph at the Border

By Karen González

Every year from December 16 to 24, Las Posadas begin in many Latin American countries and immigrant communities in the U.S. Roughly translated, posadas means “inn” or “shelter.” Las Posadas recalls the events in Luke’s Gospel leading up to Jesus’ birth.

Emmanuel in Loss

By Katelyn Durst

This year began with tears

dark nights where there was

no teapot whistling on the stove to

keep us warm.

Many of us had hopes and dreams

but they were dashed like an ocean

wave across a rocky coast.

A Surprise at the School Concert

By Allison Duncan

Cute middle school kids filed onto the risers for the charter school holiday concert. Boys with hair slicked back, girls with Mom’s bright pink lipstick a bit clumsily applied. Some surveyed the audience, grinned once they located a relative, and waved shyly.

Christmas Book Recommendations from CSA

From CSA

Are you looking for the perfect gift for a loved one, or something to read over the holidays? CSA’s staff have compiled a list of thoughtful books on faith and social justice that will deepen your understanding of what it means to live on earth, as it is in heaven.

When All You Can Do Is Laugh

By Drew Jackson
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the LORD came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Join Baby Jesus on the Margins

By J. Mark Bowers
I sat in an Advent Bible study, listening for the rest of the song.
The passage was the Magnificat in Luke 1. We opened the Scriptures and read Mary’s familiar words: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…
The leader unpacked the need for personal piety and humility: He has looked on the humble estate of His servant… Like Mary who hid these ancient promises in her heart, he praised the importance of knowing the Bible: He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His offspring forever…
All true enough—Mary might not have recognized the Messiah had she not meekly soaked herself in the recorded Scriptural promises for Yahweh’s people.