Posted by: Titus Presler | November 30, 2011

Watching Together: Meditation for Advent I Wednesday

Watching Together

The call in Texas came a bit before midnight.  A young woman of the seminary was in the hospital.  Jeanette’s illness had seemed like flu the previous day, but now it was severe and she was unconscious.

A number of students and community members were with her husband in the waiting room of intensive care, while others were with their young son at home.  We took turns praying with Jeanette and, of course, looking for signs of recovery.  We prayed a bit together, talked, drank coffee.  We were waiting, waiting for something to happen.

Then we realized we needed to watch.  And keep watch.  The outcome of this illness could not be predicted.  God was inviting us to be a community in vigil.  One person went and brought Bibles, hymnals and prayerbooks from the seminary chapel.  We sang hymns, read aloud long passages of scripture, prayed litanies and offered prayers from the heart.  And one by one we kept vigil with Jeanette.

As in any ICU, there were multiple signs, and the signs said Jeanette was sinking.  It was hard to accept this for a person in her 20s, with no diagnosis, no history of serious illness.  We needed to keep watching, now not necessarily for signs of recovery, but simply for signs of God among us in this catastrophe.

Shortly before dawn, the nurse in the ICU opened a window.  “I do this when I know the end is near,” he said, “so that the spirit can leave in peace.”  And that was what happened.

Death’s rude intrusion was rending for that young family and for the community.  Yet the watching had begun to re-weave a fabric toward wholeness.  No one could do that alone.  Watching for God together kept us alert for signs of God among us together.  God was there, with the family, and with us.

This meditation is excerpted from Titus Presler’s “Alert for Signs: Seeing and Praying in Advent” (Forward Movement Publications). 



  1. Titus, I’m so glad you’re posting these Advent meditations each day. . .

    With gratitude for you,


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