At the heart of our Advent preparation stands John the Baptist, who calls us to repent and make a new beginning. As the darkness increases in the Northern Hemisphere, we turn toward the approaching light of Christ. For Christians he is the root of Jesse, the righteous judge who welcomes all, especially the poor and meek of the earth. So this Advent, in our efforts to “Be the Manger” we hear the call to be sturdy. We must be sturdy so that we can withstand the repentance we need to welcome Christ once again into our lives and into the world. We must be sturdy like the stump of Jesse, for from this seemingly dead stump the hope we need will flourish!