Oh advent, we need you

by susan on December 1, 2018

If ever we needed the arrival of something new, we need it now (I imagine that’s been said a time or two throughout history, but come on. Look around.).

Fires in California, more mass shootings, millions of refugees fleeing for their lives & a nation formed by immigrants tear-gassing immigrants at our border.

If ever we needed the arrival of something new, we need it now. We mean it this time.

It’s times like these that make me thankful for the church calendar. I know, it seems somewhat inappropriate to claim a cycle of scriptures, stories & rituals can somehow put a dent in our collective failure & suffering. Yet, in some weird & mysterious way, I think there’s something to it. This ancient collection of stories gives us hope, and not the just the put your feet-up-and-get-comfy because everything’s gonna be okay kind of hope.

Instead, it’s the kind that says, something new is not just possible, it’s inevitable – don’t you want to join in?!

It must have taken that kind of hope to invite a not-yet-married teenager to say yes to an angel who abruptly invited her to be part of God’s life-uprooting plan to save the world. And though we are not told there was anything magical or bigger than life about Mary, we have made her so. Icons of Mary can be found everywhere, from stain-glassed cathedrals to shiny hood ornaments. No matter what your beliefs about her, there’s no way to deny her pivotal role in the Revolution.

She felt him grow in her body.
She experienced him stir & move.
She labored & gave birth to him.

This Advent season leading up to Christmas, we are journeying with Mary.

We’re starting our Advent journey this Sunday at Hyperion Brewing Co. It may seem like an unlikely place, but for our community, it’s pretty typical. We believe God is just as present in a brewery as in a church building – maybe more so at times. We’re partnering with The Story Arts Workshop to host a morning of brunch & storytelling centered around preparation, becoming, arrival & anything else related to Advent. It was in the everyday life of Mary (the mother of Jesus) that Hope arrived – perhaps we’ll experience the same as we share stories, food & drink together.

Next Sunday, we’ll be back at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum for a series of Sunday gatherings to journey together toward the birth of Christ. We’ll imagine Mary’s life, light candles remembering various parts of her story & be invited to reflect on her role in birthing Jesus.

And throughout this season, as we have done in years past, we’re choosing to buy less so we can give more. We’re asking those in our community (which includes you if you’re reading this) to buy less “stuff” this Christmas and instead give gifts that make a difference. Our focus is on giving to Amani Sasa (“Peace Now”). Amani Sasa is a holistic ministry among women refugees in Uganda. Many of these women and girls have been traumatized, abused, trafficked and/or are vulnerable to exploitation. Through a shelter recovery program, a vocational training program for women at risk and a social work program, they are experiencing hope & new life. In the new year, Amani Sasa is also launching a new maternal health program to empower vulnerable young moms with vital pre-natal care, medical support, counseling and training skills. This Christmas, you can give a gift to support this new initiative. Gift cards are available to give to loved ones letting them know a gift has been given in their honor.

We hope to see you this season & we’d love for you to join us in expecting & joining in the arrival of One who has & who still is changing the world.

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