Every day we receive countless messages from our families, peers, jobs, and society at large as to who we should be, what we should think, how we should feel or what we should be doing. All of these things take us out of ourselves and don’t allow us to sit in the present moment.
If we are to be an Easter people, we must enter into Good Friday and the silence of Holy Saturday. That requires something difficult from us: we must not allow our hearts to harden. We have to interrogate our own involvement in the systems that abuse and kill our neighbors. We cannot look away from the suffering around us, but must enter into it as Jesus did, and allow our hearts of stone to become hearts of flesh that break and mourn.
2020 has been immensely difficult, traumatic, and long, there’s no doubt about it. I had so many plans and dreams for this year before shit hit the fan - I wanted to travel more, write a book, get a tattoo. I didn't get to do any of those things, but instead I was able to do something much more meaningful - to truly make time and space for my healing and well-being.
So if what we’ve known is harming us all - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually - and in many ways is antithetical to God’s dreams for us, why continue? Why not take a risk and dream beyond what is familiar? As you enter this last week of Advent, think about what you would need to be willing to agree to take that risk and help give birth to a new world: Do you need to rest and take more time for yourself? Do you need to do more internal work? Do you need to learn more about the oppressive systems that are harming your siblings? Do you need to build better relationships with your neighbors and communities? All of these are valid questions. Remember that as you sit with them, God will answer, and God will provide for you. For nothing is impossible with God.
People often dismiss “radical” policies like universal health care, loan forgiveness or accountability outside the criminal justice system as too idealistic. They are “pipe dreams.” Some may even say “un-Christian”! But God’s desires for our world are not simply spiritual - they are tangible: food for the poor, release of prisoners, forgiveness of debts. Are God’s calls for justice “pipe dreams”? Or have we simply deluded ourselves into thinking that our systems of oppression are not at all in contradiction with the Kin-dom of God?
Jesus’ whole adult life was centered on turning the status quo upside down - he healed those considered untouchable and disposable, he told the rich to give away their possessions to the poor, he spoke openly to women and included them in his ministry. Above all, he preached love, forgiveness, and compassion, especially for “the least of these” - the most marginalized. These teachings are still sorely needed, and they still fly in the face of the status quo today.
Is our world ending? Well, yes, the world as we knew it before the pandemic is gone, as much as we would love to “go back to normal”. But also because we are seeing the death throes of unsustainable, violent systems and ways of life. Our old habits and routines have dramatically changed as well. If we are paying attention, if we stay alert, we can actually take action to ensure that the world we rebuild - and the lives we create for ourselves - are more life-giving and more just than the ones we had before.
Advent feels a bit more real for me this year. Maybe it's because we are all in this seemingly perpetual season of waiting for the pandemic to be over. Maybe it's because we are all just tired and afraid and we need all the good news (see what I did there?) we can get. For me it's also because this year has truly felt like something out of the book of Revelation, and I'm low-key wondering if maybe this is the year the heavens open up and lo, He will come, with clouds descending.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.” Psalm 84:1-2 In this strange and scary time of quarantine, a lot of us Christians are struggling with being isolated not [...]
Sermon for Lent 3 at Connexion on March 24, 2019.