As Theology Shifts, Sisters are Making Christmas More Cosmic

December 23, 2019

Each Sunday in Advent, Sr. Elizabeth Davis and her fellow Mercy sisters light a candle on their cosmic Advent wreath adorned with shells, pinecones, rocks and colorful ribbons. 

The four candles symbolize the births of, in order: the universe, the solar system, Jesus Christ and, finally, “the birth of each one of us into the whole cosmic body of the universe,” said Davis, a member of Mercy International Association.

While Christmas is a celebration of God becoming incarnate through the birth of Jesus Christ, theologians consider God’s first act of incarnation to be the birth of the cosmos, inspiring some religious communities to incorporate a cosmic dimension to their seasonal reflections and celebrations. (Davis noted that her community, Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland, got the idea of a cosmic Advent wreath from the School Sisters of Notre Dame.)

The Mercy sisters are working to democratize the theological language around Christ and the cosmos through Mercy Global Presence, a program that uses art and ordinary language to examine otherwise abstract topics. The online resource for December is themed “Incarnate God in Cosmos and in Person of Jesus.”

“What’s happening now is quite a fundamental shift for ordinary sisters, men, women and children, that we’re starting to understand [the universe] in ways we couldn’t have even 10 years ago,” said Davis, who serves on the guiding team for Mercy Global Presence and as liaison with the 12 congregational leaders of Sisters of Mercy.

“That’s a fundamental shift in our theology, in our spirituality, in how and where we do ministry,” she said.

And a shift in how to think about Christmas…

Read the rest of the article in Global Sisters Report here