Among: Advent Word 14

Among all the Advent words for this year, only today’s is a preposition. The remainder of the list comprises seven nouns and fourteen verbs (including, of course, some crossovers). These are the  draft horses of the language–the persons, places and things and the actions they perform. They are easy to write about because we can combine them into simple sentences–Awaken, messenger!–and then modify them with adjectives and adverbs–Awaken now, bold messenger.

Writing about prepositions provides more of a challenge. But their rôle in a sentence offers an opening idea, for prepositions express relationships between the words in a sentence. These relationships may be spatial (in, on, under) or temporal (before, after, during), but they may also be more abstract (since, of, with).

Because the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of relationships, prepositions thus provide food–though perhaps thin gruel–for Advent meditation. However, the relationships expressed by today’s preposition, among, are not only syntactical. They find us “in the midst of; surrounded by; in association with.” They describe behavior “by the joint action of” and “with portions to each.” They even acknowledge that sometimes relationships get a little testy: “with or against one another: Don’t fight among yourselves” (American Heritage Dictionary, 5th ed.). I will even forgo the pedantic distinction I insist on in English 111–between for two and among for three or more–and close with a slight paraphrase of the most important lesson from today’s or any day’s meditation:

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18:20)

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