The task was find a simple, clear way to explicitly celebrate the presence of children in our worship on Sunday while at the same time giving new families the information they need about options — like our Family Room with the live stream of the service. Oh … and give the kids something to color on.
This holy season as Christians honor and celebrate the birth of the world’s most famous poor baby born in a manger, I hope we all will pause to remember the 15.5 million invisible poor babies and children in our rich country who need our help to survive and thrive and reach their God-given potential. Together let us recommit ourselves to ending child poverty now. If we love America we must all stand tall against the excessive greed that tramples millions of the children entrusted to our care. Every child is a sacred gift and deserves just treatment in our nation and world.
It is now the day before the day before Christmas and we are in the waning days of the Advent season of preparation for the arrival — once again — of the baby who is, for us, the incarnation of God’s love, justice and compassion in the world. Maybe we’re ready and maybe we’re not — but ever was it so: even on the First Coming … the First Christmas … as described in one of my favorite poems by the brilliant Madeleine L’Engle:
Every Sunday during Advent is a time to reflect on a new word: Hope. Peace. Joy. Love. Sometimes at this time of the year, it seems that those are the last principles that we see operating in our world. Advent seems to always have a dark cloud around, especially these past few years. I find myself scrambling to find the light.
For liturgical Christians, candles on the Advent Wreath are part of the ritual of preparation for the coming of the Light of God’s Love into the world in the person of Jesus — the refugee baby born in a manger because there was no room anywhere else for his marginalized family.
Several years ago I heard a sermon titled “Christmas in Hell.” The sermon conveyed the point that while the holidays are “supposed” to be cheery and happy and filled with beautiful dining tables, fireplaces, sweaters and fully intact highly functional families; for many people the holidays bring up all sorts of painful and depressing feelings and experiences where, honestly, December 26 cannot come faster.
Today feels a little more like Christmas at our house. We put up our tree and decorated it this morning. Until today, we’ve only had a wreath on the front door and have been waiting. This Advent season I have felt more peaceful, more intentional about the pace of our days.
Recently, I have been thinking about being in the dark, both the literal darkness of short days and the figurative darkness of uncertainty and worry. That’s because I just read Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark. In it, she describes how we are taught to fear the dark, and how she was always afraid of dark rooms or being outside long after dark. For her, darkness is also about existential doubt and the fear of death.
by Bishop Mary Glasspool
One nickname for the Third Sunday in Advent is Stir-up Sunday, from the opening words of Collect for the Day: Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us! This gets us ready (if we aren’t already!) for the shocking words of Luke’s Gospel — in which John the Baptist storms around the desert screaming at the people who have come out to be baptized by him: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance.
Marvin Gaye and Pope Francis. Mercy, mercy me.
I am a person who relates to the world through music – everything that happens reminds me of a song. Which then lives in my head until the next one drills in. When Pope Francis swung open the Holy Door of the Vatican this week to usher in The Year of Mercy, I went back to my junior year of high school and the great Marvin Gaye.