advent

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Significant tidings

What are the significant stories in this issue? When I asked this question in the office, the answer came back: “They’re all significant.” This, our Christmas issue, is chock-full of stories to pay attention to—with our prayers and actions. 

Two international stories stand out—some good news and some heart-breaking news.

A walk in the dark

In the northern hemisphere, Advent comes to us in the darkest time of the year. Christmas is advertised and celebrated as the happiest time of the year, and for some it is just that. But for others, Christmas is indeed the darkest time, where loneliness seems lonelier, when separation feels more separate, and despair calls our name.

Making space for the stranger

We are accustomed to reading the narrative of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) as something of an ethereal event, a moment of encounter with the divine realm during which Mary’s feet didn’t quite touch the ground. But in our preoccupation with the other-worldly, we can overlook the fact that this is one of the most this-worldly narratives in the entire Bible, since its principal concern is Mary’s sharing of her body and blood with God, making it possible for God to become incarnate. [1]

And the Child Will Lead Them

A highlight of the worship on the fourth Sunday of Advent for me was the children's story. Well, actually, after the children's story when the storyteller asked four of the children to ask someone in the congregation to light one of the Advent candles. Children calling adults' attention to the Advent candles? How appropriate.  Really, it is the children that see more than adults do, pointing out the unexpected, speaking the unspoken, asking the unasked questions. When is it that we stop being children to unconditionally follow the norms of society at all kinds of costs?

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Lament and Lego Parades

Sitting with the sadness. The third advent's theme was "Sadness Changes to Gladness." The part that is so hard to swallow, though, is that "changing to gladness" doesn't necessarily mean the sadness goes away. In fact, there are so many reasons to lament and be sad. Broken relationships, war, poverty, destruction of creation, unhealthy patterns of consumption, greed, and violence invade every aspect of our lives in one way or another.

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First Advent: Presence in the Chaos

With the first Sunday of advent come the simple little changes that I have come to make to mark this season as set apart. Placing candles on the table, shifting devotionals from regular materials to special advent resources, getting out Christmas music and decorations, and planning special worship with our faith community all happen year after year during this season. 

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