Sermon 12/13 Rekindle Joy

Date: Dec. 13, 2020 Third Sunday of Advent In-person worship, outdoors
Scripture Lessons: Psalm 126 and John 1:6-8, 19-28
Sermon: Rekindle Joy
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

When I was young, there was a song we often sang in church. It was the 70’s.
There were guitars. And the words of the song went, “If anybody asks you who I
am, Who I am, Who I am, If anybody asks you who I am, Tell him I’m a child of
God.”

In our faith tradition, we do believe that every single human being, all 7.8 billion
of us, are each a child of God. Sacred. Holy. Created by love and for love.

In the words we heard from the gospel of John today, we are told of Jewish leaders
sending priests and Levites from Jerusalem out to the wilderness near the Jordan
River to ask John, “Who are you?” Who are you, John? Are you the Messiah?
Are you Elijah? Elijah was remembered as having been taken up in a whirlwind
and he was expected to return. So John is asked, Who are you? And he replies.
He is clear. He knows who he is and his role. Not the Messiah. Not Elijah. But
the one spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. The one who is to prepare the way.

So, in thinking about this question, “Who are you?” what is our answer? A child
of God. What other things might we answer if asked, Who are you?

RESPONSES FROM CONGREGATION

In thinking about answering that question, Who are you? we want to think about
how we respond with regard to our faith. Might we say, “I’m a child of God.” We
might say, “I’m a Christian.” Or we might say, “I am a follower of Jesus.” We
might even admit, “I’m a church goer.”

It can be hard to self identify as a person of faith in today’s world because
depending on the context it can send the wrong message. It can create confusion.
But here at our church, we have more of a shared understanding of what we do and
don’t mean when we claim our faith identity.

Given this question in the opening of the gospel of John, Who are you?, we are
going to look more closely at what it means to answer, “I am a follower of Jesus.”

In the gospel of John, the first public act of Jesus is the story of Jesus turning water
into wine at the wedding in Cana. Yes, there are many meanings to this story but
we don’t want to miss that this was a wedding. A celebration. A party. And Jesus
is coming through with the wine. It’s a good time.

Other stories in the gospels tell of meals and feasts. Again, fun with friends.
Something we’re missing these covid days.

There is the story of the feeding of the multitudes. A free picnic for thousands.
Again, think enjoying your friends and free food to boot.

There are stories of healing and the wonderful life-changing results. Again, cause
for celebration and gratitude.

We are told of Jesus bering accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. Celebrating
the abundance of food and friends.

We are told of Jesus the night before he is killed celebrating the seder. That’s a
feast of liberation. It’s sacred but it is joyful. At a seder I attended the kids threw
plastic frogs and had all kinds of props and fun.

I’m not saying Jesus was not serious. I’m not saying with world doesn’t have
serious problems.

But when we think about Jesus, let’s remember that in the gospel of John, Jesus
tells his followers, I have come to bring abundant joy.

Not abundant judgment. Not abundant suffering.
Not abundant guilt.
Not abundant condemnation.
Not abundant work.

Joy. Abundant Joy. Joy that is ever full. Joy is woven throughout the gospel
narratives. Joy that lifts the spirits and infuses relationships and is contagious.
How did the early church spread with such speed and scope? Maybe part of it is
the joy that was clearly evident among the followers of Jesus.

One stereotype of Christians today is that they are stern structure legitimators; right
and wrong, heaven and hell, in or out. There is a lot of fear and judgment. Not
much joy there.

Sometimes Christians today are seen as kind of mindless happy people. They can
seem ignorant or oblivious to all the problems in the world. Kind of delusional.
Really, not much joy there, either.

I think the joy we see in Jesus is subversive. The Romans wanted the Jews to be
miserable. To suffer. So that they would be easier to control and subdue. And
here is Jesus celebrating and enjoying friends, having fun, feasting. It’s like
announcing: Hey Romans, I’m not going to let you control my reality. God is
good. All the time. Life is a miracle. Love abounds. We are taking joy!

So, as we think about who we are as followers of Jesus, we want to think about
how we take joy. How are we joyful people because of our faith? How do we
express joy in our relationships? How do we share joy with others?

There is a story about the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. When he was living in Paris he
used to take a walk every afternoon and each day he passed by an elderly woman
who was begging. The women sat beside the path stoically and silently and
showed no sign of gratitude for the money that was given to her.

One day, Rilke walked past with a young woman friend. Much to her astonishment
he gave the elderly woman no coins. His companion wondered why. He told her,
“A person must give something to her heart and not to her hand.”

A few days later, Rilke went walking with a small, half-opened rose in his hand.
His young friend thought it was for her. But he did not give it to her. Instead, he
laid the rose in the hand of the beggar woman.

In response, the woman stood up, reached out, and took Rilke’s hand and kissed it.
She clutched the rose to her heart and disappeared. She was not seen for a week.
Then she came back and sat lifeless and cold as before. “What do you think she
lived on during that week?” asked Rilke’s young friend.

“On the rose,” he answered.

[From Advent, Christmas and Epiphany: Stories and Reflections on the Sunday
Readings, Megan McKenna, p. 145, adapted.]

Rilke gave the old woman joy.

This is a season to prepare to take joy. The joy that our faith is giving us. And
what better way to usher in joy than to celebrate the birth of a baby. Jesus. And
every other baby. Joy. Joy. Joy. Despite the sleepless nights. Joy. With all the
disruption. Joy. In the face of inconsolable crying and diapers. Joy.
This season is a time to remind ourselves who we are. We are children of God.
And we are followers of Jesus. And this makes us people of joy with a deep and
abiding trust in the goodness of life that brings delight. It’s there. For the taking.

So this advent season, take joy. If ever we needed it, take joy. With three thousand
people a day dying of covid. Take joy. With temperatures and sea level rising.
Take joy. Separated from family and friends. Take joy. Faced with economic
hardship. Take joy. In spite of a dysfunctional political situation. Take joy. With
a broken health care system. Take joy. Amidst the ravages of racism and
oppression. Take joy. In the absence of loved ones. Take joy.

Who are you? Know who you are. Follow Jesus. Rebel. Take joy. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For
additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

Corona Sabbath 39 JOY Reflection Text

Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath.  This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19.    We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

We listen to Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11  reminding us of of God’s good news for all people, good news of healing, wholeness, and justice.  This good news brings joy.  In this Advent season, we seek to rekindle our dreams of joy.  

“The Spirit of Exalted Yahweh is upon me,

for Yahweh has anointed me:

God has sent me to bring good news to those who are poor;

to heal broken hearts;

to proclaim release to those held captive

and liberation to those in prison;

to announce a year of favor from Yahweh,

and the day of God’s vindication;

to comfort all who mourn,

to provide for those who grieve in Zion –

to give them a wreath of flowers instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness instead of tears,

a cloak of praise instead of despair.

They will be known as trees of integrity,

planted by Yahweh to display God’s glory.

They will restore the ancient ruins,

and rebuild sites long devastated;

they will repair the ruined cities,

neglected for generations.

‘For I, Yahweh, love justice;

I hate robbery and sin.

So I will faithfully compensate you,

and I will make an everlasting covenant with you.

Your descendants will be renowned among the nations;

and your offspring among the people;

all who see you will acknowledge

that you are a people blessed by Yahweh.’

I will joyfully exult in Yahweh,

who is the joy of my soul!

My God clothed me with a robe of deliverance

and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,

the way a bridegroom puts on a turban

and a bride bedecks herself with jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its shoots,

and a garden brings its seeds to blossom,

so Exalted Yahweh makes justice sprout,

and praise spring up before all nations.’”  

Reflection from Kim

Maybe you are feeling a little less joy this season than you normally would.  Well, without the usual parties and activities, without the family gatherings and meals with friends, without the usual church goings on, it may be hard to feel the joy that we normally associate with the Christmas season. Maybe you are missing the concerts and plays and arts events that you associate with this season that bring joy.

Then there are the stunning death tolls posted each day due to covid.  That certainly gives pause.  And many of us have friends and relatives suffering from covid.  So much suffering and grief.  And our hearts also go out to those in the healthcare sector who are stressed to their limits responding to this crisis.  

Yes, there are the complications of this covid Christmas.  And there are other things that may dampen the spirits this season.  Maybe you are remembering someone who died at this time of year.  Maybe you are thinking about sad memories associated with past Christmases.  Maybe economic issues are taking the sparkle out of life for you at this moment.  Maybe concern for others who are having difficulties has you down.  The shortened days and long nights can subdue the spirit. 

In this season of lights we simply may not be feeling merry and bright.  But the words of the prophet Isaiah remind us of the deeper significance of this season.  The prophet celebrates one who will embody the commitment of God to justice, right relationship, and healing.  And as Christians we see the embodiment of that commitment in Jesus.  There is a story early in the ministry of Jesus that refers to this very scripture.  We are told of Jesus declaring in the synagogue that he has come to bring good news to the poor, to heal broken hearts, to proclaim release to the captives, and liberation to those in prison, and to announce the year of God’s favor.  That is a clearing of the slate relating to financial debt.  

Jesus comes to bring justice and deliverance and healing.  He comes to put things right.  To free us from the systems that entrap us and comfort our hurt and pain.  

The ministry of Jesus is a witness to the commitment of God to the well-being of humankind.  Jesus shows us how to care for each other and the Earth.  He shows us how to forgive each other and ourselves.  He invites us to relationships that are life giving.  Jesus invites us to a world where people are truly valued and not abused or taken for granted or seen as economic inputs that are expendable.  

The birth of Jesus is about the birth of a new reality in which everyone and all of Creation is cherished and has the opportunity and resources to flourish.

So, no matter what is dampening our spirits this covid Christmas, may we find joy in the coming of Jesus.  May we rejoice in the justice he brings.  May we celebrate the new reality that he calls forth and that is continuing to emerge today.  

This is a season to remember that God is with us.  The God who cares that people are made poor, that people are grieving, that people are in pain.  The God who offers comfort, solace, and new life.  The birth of Jesus and the holy day of Christmas are to remind us of God’s intention that all lives be filled with joy.  May your joy be rekindled this season.  

Amen.

(Click HERE if you wish to see the post containing the video of this text.)

Sermon 12/6 Preparing for Peace

Date: Dec. 6, 2020 Second Sunday of Advent In-person worship, outdoors
Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8
Sermon: Preparing for Peace
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

To access coal seams in the Appalachian mountains, companies are literally
removing mountain tops. First the trees and brush are removed by tractors and bull
dozers. Some lumber is sold, the rest is burned. Then explosives are used to blast
the top of the mountain. The rock and dirt is pushed into nearby valleys and
streams using a drag line that can encompass the area of a city block and weigh up
to 12 million pounds and can move up to 100 tons in a single load. This method of
mountain top removal can decrease the altitude of a mountain by up to 1000
vertical feet. An area bigger than the state of Delaware has been flattened
including over 500 mountains. All of this to expose seams that are mined for coal.
It gives a whole new meaning to a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking!
[Information about mountain top removal mining from https://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Mountaintop_removal_mining
and
https://earthjustice.org/features/campaigns/what-is-mountaintop-removal-mining]

In China even larger efforts are underway to move mountains to create more land
suitable for development. In one project in western China, 6000 workers operating
3000 excavators and dump trucks, are removing hundreds of mountain tops to
accommodate development. Much of this initiative is sponsored by the
petrochemical industry to meet increasing energy needs. These efforts are
expected to produce billions of dollars in profit.
[See https://www.forbes.com/sites/wadeshepard/2016/01/21/china-is-movingmountains-for-the-new-silk-road-literally/?sh=46f263b07e28 ]

So, clearly, the human species has developed enormous earth moving abilities.
Now, this past week, another young black person was killed in St. Petersburg. At
the Food Max on 18th Ave. S. Again. This tragic event is not just the result of the
personal choices of those directly involved. On Dominique Harris’s part. Or on
the part of the police. This tragedy is the result of hundreds of years of excavating
that has taken place preparing the ground for such an event. The ground was
carefully prepared over centuries by shoring up laws, erecting economic structures,
and amassing societal attitudes that created the context for yet another death of a
young black person. The behavior of Harris, in this case, as well as the police, was
influenced by are a human construct generations in the making. The way was
prepared for this event through monumental cultural mobilization creating
systemic racism and a culture of violence.

This is what we are capable of. Moving mountains. Literally. And moving
mountains to create systems of domination and oppression. We have enormous
power. But what are we doing with it?

This morning, we heard two scripture lessons about earth moving. Isaiah speaks of
preparing the way for God:

“Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low;
let every cliff become a a plain,
and the ridges become a valley!”

And Mark speaks of preparing the way for God.

“I send my messenger before you
to prepare your way,
a herald’s voice in the desert, crying,
‘Make ready the way of our God.
Clear a straight path.’”

Valleys filled in. Mountains made low. Cliffs flattened. Ridges leveled. The
creation of a straight, clear path. This is huge, transformational work. Of course
there were no earth movers back then for this work. This imagery refers to
transformation to be done in the soul, the spirit, the collective consciousness, the
community, the culture. It is a call to do the work necessary to make way for the in
breaking of the God of Love.

The prophet Isaiah and the gospel of Mark announce that there is preparation to be
done. On this second Sunday of Advent we are talking about preparing for way
for peace in our world. Let’s remember our capacity – we have prepared for
hundreds of years for the violence and injustice that we have today. It did not
emerge overnight. And it is not going to be changed overnight. The state of
violence we are living in has evolved with intention based on choices made by
people including leaders and CEOs. The economic dis-ease, the fear, the gun
violence, the defense budget, the demeaning of people who are different, all of it
disturbs the peace and it has been set up like that. It is not a given and it is not
being imposed on us from outside of the realm of human power and influence. It is
not a proverbial ’act of God.’ The violent state of things, the lack of peace, is of
human creation and therefore can be changed by humans. We have the capacity to
do this work.

Just look at how covid has changed our lives in a few short months. Masks.
Staying at home. No hospital visitation. No eating out. Schools closed. No going
to movies. A year ago, we would have thought that kind of change was impossible.
Yet, the earth has moved.

We have a son who lives in California so we watch the covid happenings there.
They are under strict lockdown. Again. They are under order to stay at home
except for essentials. Restaurants are closed to diners and can only offer take out.
Salons, gyms, and playgrounds are all closed. No nonessential travel is permitted.
Our son may not be able to come to Florida for Christmas. We’ll see.

This is what California governor Gavin Newsome has to say about the restrictions:
“Lives will be lost unless we do more than we’ve ever done. We are being called
to do everything in our power to make the kind of tough decisions that are required
to get through the next few months. We will enjoy the other side of this.” He goes
on, “There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are a few months away from seeing
real progress. We do not anticipate having to do this once again but we all need to
step up and we need to meet this moment head on and do everything we can to
stem the tide, bend the curve and do everything we can necessary to get that
vaccine into the hands of every Californian in the state.” [The Guardian,
California plans sweeping stay-at-home order as Covid cases surge, Vivian Ho, 3
Dec. 2020] Newsome speaks with conviction and with hope.

This Advent season, as we think about preparing for peace, we want to remember
the scope of our abilities. We have created the situation that exists in terms of
violence and injustice. We can change it. Just like we can take down mountains in
Appalachia and clear the land in China. Maybe we don’t have an earth mover, or a
drag line, or a dump truck. Maybe what we can do is grab a shovel. A spade. A
hoe. A rake. Something. Anything. We must each do our part. As Newsome
says, ‘lives will be lost, do more than we have ever done, do everything in our
power, make tough decisions, step up, meet this moment head on, bend the curve.’
Then we see ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel’ and we can look forward to
enjoying ‘the the other side of this.’ Peace awaits us!

Jesus comes to usher in a new reality of peace and we must prepare the way;
contribute to the transformation necessary for a culture of peace to emerge and be
welcomed in this country and on this Earth. This season, as we prepare to
celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, may we implore God to rekindle the
flame of peace within us. May we dream peace. May we see peace. May we live
peace. This is what we are called to do to prepare for the birth of Jesus and the
birth of every child. May we create a landscape, a habitat, hospitable to peace.
Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For
additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

Corona Sabbath 38 Second Sunday of Advent PEACE Reflection Text

These weeks when we cannot gather in person for Sunday worship, Lakewood United Church of Christ is providing brief weekly sabbath programs for you to listen to on your own or with others in your social isolation group. They will be posted on Friday so that you can schedule your sabbath time to suit your schedule and your spiritual inclinations. We hope these programs are of spiritual support to you in these difficult times.

The post this week focuses on the theme for the second Sunday of Advent – peace.

This post includes a scripture reading from Sue Sherwood, a reflection from Rev. Kim Wells and a music video by Hilton Jones. We hope this post helps to feed your spirit in these difficult times as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

You are invited to find a quiet space, inside or outside. Light a candle. Take a look around you. Breathe. Life-giving breath. Be present.

You may begin with this reading:

Bright God of Advent:
Blaze in our darkness.
Incinerate our iniquity.
Light up our road.

Riddle the ashes
of our desires.
Rekindle in us
your justice and love.
Ruth Burgess

When you are ready, start the video/audio below.

END TEXT

Here is what I will say on the video-

Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath. This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

We listen to verses from Psalm 85 that remind us of God’s dreams for peace. In this Advent season, we seek to rekindle our dreams of peace.

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

Yahweh, favor your land once again
and restore the fortunes of Israel;
forgive the guilt of your people
and cover all their sins.

I will listen to what you have to say, Yahweh –
a voice that speaks of peace,
peace for your people and your friends
so long as they don’t return to their folly.
Your salvation is near for those who revere you
and your glory will dwell in our land.
Love and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have embraced.
Fidelity will sprout from the earth
and justice will lean down from heaven.
Yahweh will give us what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
Justice will march before you, Yahweh,
and peace will prepare the way for your steps.

Reflection from Kim

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet: righteousness and peace will kiss each other. What a beautiful verse. It points to the future with hope. What a beautiful dream for the future.

But there is another translation of this verse: “Love and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced.” The verbs are in the past tense. It is a reference to something that God has done in the past.

In one version, the verbs are translated in the in the future tense: Will meet. Will kiss. And in another translation, the verbs are translated in the past tense: Have met. Have embraced. Which is right? Given the ancient documents involved, we may not know exactly. Both may have validity. And I believe in this Advent season, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, both versions speak to us.

This is a season to look back. To look back to the life and ministry and teachings of Jesus. To look back to how his life has impacted the human history. To look back to the stories surrounding the birth of Jesus. It is a time to look back and feel grounded in the words and traditions that mark this season. The translation of the Psalm in the past tense invites us to look back and see what God has done. To think about when love and faithfulness have met and justice and peace have embraced. Certainly in the life of Jesus. And, in more recent years, I see this meeting in the ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. among others.

The translation in the future tense is also important this season because Advent is by nature oriented to the future. We are anticipating the advent of something. We are getting ready for something. We are expectant about what will happen. We think about what the ministry and life of Jesus mean for today and for the future. And as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, and the birth of the Prince of Peace, we do so with hope for the peace that Jesus will bring. As we look around us, we long for the time when love and faithfulness will meet, and righteous and peace will kiss. Oh how beautiful that will be! We ache for the peace that we see promised in Jesus to be manifest among us today.

Peace always has a past and a future dimension. If you try to pursue peace without looking back, much is missed. There are things to learn from the past. There are often things in the past that need to be examined and acknowledged with honesty. Our country is in that process dealing with the legacy of racism. Peace involves the healing of the past.

But peace also has a future orientation. Peace invites us to see new visions and dream new dreams about how things can be. We don’t have to stay stuck where we are. We don’t have to let ourselves be controlled by the past. We can be looking to a different future.

Love and faithfulness meeting, justice and peace embracing. These images are stirring. They are comprehensive in scope. They are energizing. They are soaring. They are alluring. They are soothing. They reflect back and they shine forward. And isn’t that what this season is really all about? A time to dream again. To inject the mundane with some magic? To embrace the lengthening darkness which gives the stars more time to shine?

This is a season to rekindle our dreams of peace. To imagine a world where another young black man does not get killed at the Food Max on 18th Avenue South. To imagine a world where no child goes hungry. To imagine a world with more equitable economic systems and fewer guns. To imagine a world in which people resolve their differences with words not weapons. To imagine a world that is sustainable and healthy?

What are your visions of peace? What does the meeting of love and faithfulness look like to you? What does justice and peace embracing look like to you?

In this precious holy season, let us look back seeking peace and let us look forward dreaming peace. Amen.

(Click HERE if you wish to see the post containing the video of this text.)

Corona Sabbath 37 First Sunday of Advent HOPE Reflection Text

Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath.  This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19.    We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

We listen to a scripture lesson from the gospel of Mark.  This is teaching is about the end times but it is also about every time and our time.  Traditionally Advent begins with an apocalyptic bang to jolt us into remembering that the humble birth of Jesus was unexpected and cataclysmic.  

Mark 13:24-37

But in those days, after that time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will fall from the sky and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see the Promised One coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then the angels will be sent to gather the chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

“Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.  In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Promised One is near, right at the door.  The truth is, before this generation has passed away, all these things will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

“But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it – neither the angels of heaven, nor the Only Begotten – no one but Abba God.  Be constantly on the watch!  Stay awake!  You do not know when the appointed time will come.

“It is like people traveling abroad.  They leave their home and put the workers in charge, each with a certain task, and those who watch at the front gate are ordered to stay on the alert.  So stay alert!  You do not know when the owner or the house is coming, whether at dusk, at midnight, when the cock crows or at early dawn.  Do not let the owner come suddenly and catch you asleep.  What I say to you, I say to all:  stay alert!”

Reflection from Kim

I am captivated by the image of waiting at the front gate.  On alert.  Until further notice.

First of all, we hate to wait.  Absolutely hate it.  I mean people see a line at the store and put their item back and leave, planning to return to the store when there is no line.  People pay extra to avoid the lines at theme parks.  Maybe this hating to wait is an American thing.  We went to an art exhibition in Mexico City and the people were lined up out the door, down the block, and around the corner.  And they were talking and visiting and buying street food and enjoying the day, eagerly anticipating the exhibit.  It is hard to imagine that in America. 

Wait at the front gate.  For how long?  In this scripture, there is no sense about how long the waiting will go on.  How long would I be able to remain alert?  I don’t know that I would make 5 minutes, let alone hours, days, months, or years.  There is that spiritual, “God is Never Late, He is Always Right on Time.”  Well and good, but what time is that?  We don’t know.  A reminder that we are not in control.  It’s unsettling to think about waiting with no schedule.  Waiting for something that may occur in a moment or in a millennium. 

Watch at the front gate.  Alert.  I imagine most of us would be on our phones and who knows what could be passing by at the gate.  Many of us are not even attuned to the trees and their cycles which are happening right in front of us.  How alert would we be watching at the gate?For what?  We don’t exactly know.  

Poised at the gate.  This waiting that we are told of seems fraught with intensity, fear, and longing.  It seems exciting but also scary.  Kind of like a ride at a carnival.  I remember going on a ride at the State Fair when our first child was very young.  He looked petrified through the whole ride and we felt badly having taken him on the ride.  We thought it would be fun.   But as soon as we got off the ride, he begged excitedly, “Gen!  Gen!”  He wanted to go again!  In these verses preparing us for Advent there is anxiety as well as expectation and hope.  

Waiting at the gate.  Alert.  Are we waiting for a cataclysm?  Global warming, a pandemic, police killings.  Sounds pretty cataclysmic.  And in the midst of the cataclysm, a blessing.  The presence of God.  The redeeming power of love.  Breaking in.  Maybe our hopes and dreams are coming to fruition.  But are we paying attention?  Alert?  At the gate?  

Advent is a season of attentive waiting and watching.  No one was expecting a baby born in a stable to be a game changer.  Yet, here we are, getting ready to celebrate his birthday again over 2,000 years later.  

Watch at the front gate.  Alert.  Maybe this pandemic will force us to stand at the gate and watch.  Wait.  Attentively.  Leaving the phone inside on the table.  So that we don’t miss Divine Love, God, coming to bless the world through Jesus and through us.  Amen. 

(Click HERE if you wish to see the post containing the video of this text.)