Advent 2017.3: Come, Emmanuel

Words of hope and assurance from Meister Eckhart:

If I were alone in a desert
and feeling afraid,
I would want a child to be with me.
For then my fear would disappear
and I would be made strong.
This is what life in itself can do
because it is so noble, so full of pleasure
and so powerful.

Advent 2017.2: The Waymaker

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’ ”
Mark 1:2-3 

The world needs waymakers just like John the Baptist. We need courageous voices who will speak not just a good word for Jesus Christ, as my former homiletics professor used to say, but a prophetic word. A pointed word. Direct. Clear. Uncompromising.

One such waymaker in 2017 is the Rev. Dr. William Barber, an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Dr. Barber has taken up the call to lead the Poor People’s Campaign, originally began by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967. He has brought to the national conversation a message that is biblical, moral, and Gospel-oriented.

The call by the Poor People’s Campaign for a moral revival is as timely as ever in these United States where economic disparity continues to widen, the dialogue is toxic, civil rights are threatened, healthcare is still out of reach among poorest citizens, and racial tension persists. The rotting of the American soul is further manifested in the dehumanizing treatment (especially by President Trump and some congressional leaders) of women, immigrants, Muslims, and the LGBTQ community. This is not the Way of Jesus. In fact, it’s immoral and rooted in evil.

If the Advent/Christmas season is merely a celebration of some magical event in the distant past then the point has been missed. The voice of the first-century waymaker prepared the people for the one who calls us to a wholly different way of life. Holy. Peaceful. Generous. Compassionate. Just

If the voice of John the Baptist is to be heard today, we need to bridge the span of time so his message can “cut us to the bone” (Joseph Donders). That’s precisely why we need more voices like William Barber.

May we be inspired and compelled by those who serve as 21st-century waymakers to go and do likewise.

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kairoscenter.org

 

 

Advent 2017.1 – Impatient Waiting

False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray. . .be alert. . .I have already told you everything. . .keep awake.
Mark 13:21-37

The powers and principalities of the Earth have cast a dark, ominous presence over this world that, if left unchallenged, will siphon all hope from those who need it most.

The shadows are stalked by false messiahs and prophets who prey upon the fears of the masses, convincing them that only they can save this world from destruction. Or worse, they pacify their audiences by affirming their prejudcies and hatred, and in return the people lay their hands on the deceitful ones, offering unholy blessings.

They create phony wars on one of the holiest of days and make empty, meaningless delcarations like, “We’re saying Merry Christmas again.” For they know the problem the  Christ Child poses is a political one. This Gift Bringer promises hope, love, peace, and justice. But not the familiar justice of retribution and punishment. No. This is about God’s justice- Restorative. (re)Distributive. Abundant. God will not be mocked.

God’s Light of Hope shines truth upon those who practice the dark arts of oppression, disregard for basic human rights, dehumanization, greed, and war, dispelling their lies. For Jesus has already told us all we need to know.

The Light of Hope grants the faithful the “impatience to wait for [Christ’s] coming to the bottom of our toes, to the edges of our fingertips” (W. Brueggemann). We are awake, alert, prepared.  We are not idle. Instead, we are mobilized and actively defy those who would bring harm upon our sisters and brothers no matter their place in life. So, we walk toward the Light of Hope, yearning for the promise of the Christ-child. The Gift Bringer. The Messiah.

Advent Preppers

John went into the wilderness proclaiming:
“as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth;and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. ’” (Luke 3, Year C, Advent 2)

Advent is the beginning of the Christian liturgical year. It is a time of anticipation and preparation for the coming of the Christ child. So, what does it mean to prepare the way of the Lord? What does it look like? Sound like?

  • Does it look like a stockpile of guns and ammunition?
  • Doe is look like the gift of a weapon, of any kind, under the Christmas tree?
  • Does it look like a group of citizens standing outside a Mosque armed with assault weapons?
  • Does it sound like a preacher calling for the deaths of Muslims?
  • Does it sound like the empty prayers of politicians who stand before the public like whitewashed tombs but do nothing to stop the slaughter of the innocents?
  • Does it sound like speech that is xenophobic, incites fear, and dehumanizes?

No. Those are the actions people who are preparing for violence and death.

Preparing the way for the Christ means, like John the Baptizer, proclaiming the Good News in the wilderness that is our world . . .

            A wilderness that did not come from God
            a jungle that has been caused by innumerable
            human decisions that are 
                        wrong
                        short-sighted
                        selfish
            decisions that have created havoc on the lives of many. . .

           It means proclaiming that  Jesus is going to bring a total difference
          and will only be realized when justice and integrity are victorious.
          Then, and only then, will the whole of human kind will be saved.
                                  “In the Wilderness,” by Joseph G. Donders, adapted.

For the Christian, welcoming the Christ child involves a different kind of preparation. It means being “cut to the bone ” ( Donders) and facing the reality of our world’s current condition. It means humbling ourselves and being open to the possibility of mercy, forgiveness, and peace. 

People will prepare how they will in these times. But we must know the difference  between the kind of preparation that leads to fear and death . . . and the preparation that leads to life.