What I'm Writing
This is the second week of Advent, a season of waiting and wanting. This special time lasts only four weeks, ending the week of Christmas Eve and Christmas.
Advent simply means “the coming.”
This morning we will be thinking about the next marker of that new world by focusing on the idea of peace. Peace might simply mean the absence of war, but our faith calls for more than that.
Peace in the Christian tradition implies not just a ceasing of hostilities, but also a building of relationship and connection that surpasses all understanding.
It’s a big challenge and one that can only be met through the work and life of Jesus the Christ, who we call the King of Kings.
A central message of the Advent season is this expected new relationship, which helps to heal all the people of the world and, indeed, all of creation.
Do you find this a powerful challenge?
I know I do, especially, in our current environment, which seems to delight in finding reasons for difference and separation instead of reconciliation and relationship.
While you are waiting, I would invite you to consider what sort of leader would be needed to bring such a change into this world? What sort of power would they have? What tools would they use?
This week: pray for the leaders in your life.
This is the first week of Advent, a season of waiting and wanting, which begins our church year. Advent lasts only four weeks, ending the week of Christmas and Christmas Eve.
Before that, we will hear beginning this morning, a story both very familiar and very odd. This story begins during a time long ago, so long ago some would say the Earth was not yet formed and a first light had yet to dawn.
Others would place the beginning of this story to a time when a group of slaves rebelled and took to wandering the deserts seeking the Promised Land.
Still others might trace the beginnings of this story to the hope that those people heard in the ways of an active God, a God that took special care of God’s people.
For us, perhaps, the story that we begin again this year, started in our own life with some of the magic of the Christmas season. Perhaps, it began long ago, when you learned some of the words to hymns and carols you now know by hear.
Perhaps, it began, when you learned that Christmas was a special time, because something special happens.
Or just perhaps, you are still waiting for that Christmas to really come into your life. Still waiting for the promises that you hoped God would bring: the blessings, the new life, the rebirth of old life.
Pick a starting point this morning. Pick a place to stand
And, then, be prepared to begin the walk home again.
On Friday, the second installment of the Hunger Games opened in theaters. The movie is the second of a series of books, which are aimed at teenage readers and have all three been best-sellers.
The Hunger Games is a way for a post-apocalyptic society ruled by elites to keep the native populace under control. The Games are televised spectacle that pits children against each other in arena, think The Voice only with children and spears. The winner of the game must vanquish not only rivals from other regions, but one of their own neighbors.
This second installment is less about the games and more about how a society begins to fight back and to rebel and to ferment into revolution. They call this episode: “Catching Fire.”
Now, what does this have to do with Sunday morning?
Perhaps not much, but as always when something seems to capture the American imagination it makes sense for people of faith to wonder a little about it.
This morning we will consider what God is looking for from each of us.
Or, said, another way, what sorts of things, choices, gifts, make God smile?
Advent and Christmas are nearly upon us, but before we get to that we have this season of Thanksgiving. We’ll dream into that space this morning.
This morning we will pause in our usual look at the problems of today to instead focus on some of our history. This Sunday is known in our church calendar as Reformation Sunday, meaning on this Sunday we honor, consider, and explore some of what it has historically meant to be a Protestant.
In this truth is always relative world, it often is a great risk to consider our history, or what might be called our traditional understandings of the world, because to do so implies there might be such a thing as truth in the world. By speaking about history, and claiming it as our own, we are collectively drawing a line in the sand saying these things happened and they matter.
Given the risk, it makes sense to consider this history together, in a space that speaks mightily to the notions that gave birth to the Reformation 500 years ago.
The poster child for the Reformation is probably Martin Luther. Luther was a German monk, a theology professor, Catholic, who famously nailed 95 theses of protest against certain doctrines and practices (such as the sale of indulgences) of the Roman Church to the door of the Wittenberg cathedral.
The printing press spread Luther’s words all across Europe and changed forever changed the face of Christianity.
So, while you are waiting, consider what truth is so important in your life that is worth defending? What truth is worth dying for? What truth might be worth living for?
I wonder if you have ever heard the expression, “elevator speech.” The notion is you might find yourself with only an elevator ride, 30 seconds or so, to sell your idea, or project or even get your foot in the door to a new job.
Career service workers often encourage those looking to find a new job to think about how they might best pull one of these little pitches off. People are encouraged to note their skills, or their abilities, or to highlight their vision.
As some of you know, I am now taking a night class at the local community college, which deals with nonprofit management. This week our class was asked to offer up our best elevator pitch for our respective organizations.
I’m not the best at this sort of thing, but this morning we will meet a couple characters in our readings that really must have had it down. We’ll first meet Jacob who convinced his whole family to head out into the desert. We’ll then meet a widow who against all odds finds justice at the hands of an unjust judge.
So, in the moments before we begin, I’d ask you to consider your own elevator speech, the one you might offer if asked to speak about your faith.
I wonder would words come easily or would it be difficult?
What words would you use to speak about, ask for, or defend the impulse that brought you here this morning?