December 7

Reflection by Laura Kelly, Student at Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary

          Recently, when I was at the movie theater I saw this trailer for Will Smith’s newest feature film, “Collateral Beauty.”


          I think I may have shed a tear in the theater - before the movie even started. And no, it’s not only because I am a regular movie crier, it’s because the commercial touched on a part of the human condition that I encounter regularly as a hospital chaplain. So often, as human beings, we are left face-to-face with existential longings that go beyond understanding. Questions directly addressed to the realities of pain, death, love, fear, time, hope… The list goes on and on.

          In this season while we watch favorite holiday classics and keep warm by fires and encourage children to write letters to Santa - I wonder who we are writing our letters to. Advent is a time of waiting in eager anticipation for a God with us, who is revealed in a way that compels songs of joy by choirs of angels. And yet - we are still left asking questions about our own human condition that leave us wrestling in a different kind of anticipation.

          Would it be too far of a stretch to direct our questions, to write our own letters - to Love, Time, and Death - or to whom/whatever we are struggling with? I encourage you today to grab a sheet of paper - any old scrap paper on your desk, or index card, or a piece of printer paper, or your fanciest stationary and literally write out your letter to the Reality with which you must speak. For we know, that in due time - a God with us takes on the human condition, experiences Love, Time, and even Death in a way that takes our hand and says, “me too.”

          So our broken hearts - hungry for understanding - begin inscribing letters to the universe, trusting that the One who was, who is, and who is to come will hear our cries and read the words we scribble onto scrap papers, assuring once more
                    that unto us a messenger will be born,
                    who prepares the way,
                    singing a song
                    that captivates
                    and elevates
                   Creation’s “collateral beauty”
                   from everlasting to everlasting.

About Laura

Laura Kelly is a Masters of Divinity student at Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. As an Army dependent, Kelly moved a lot growing up, but eventually landed at Florida State University where she studied English Literature. 

Laura has previously worked with transitional living facilities for people experiencing homelessness, served as a tutor and after school programs coordinator, and participated in/served as a captain for Relay for Life. As a seminarian, she is involved with Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities (RISC), an ecumenical organizing campaign that demands justice for the city. I also seek justice and inclusive welcome for folks who identify as LGBTQI, both at the seminary level and at the Church level. She plans to pursue a career as a chaplain.

Laura is recognized as part of the New Faces of Ministry program. To read her full bio, click here.

About Union Presbyterian Theological SEminary

Located in Richmond, Virginia, Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary is recognized as part of Seminaries that Change the World: Class of 2016-17.

To learn more about Union, visit their website at, or view their Seminaries that Change the World profile.