upper room daily devotions

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent Theme

This past July I was appointed to a different congregation. That means that this year Advent is a brand new experience. This year I am in community with a whole new bunch of folks as we prepare for, wait for, and anticipate the birth of the Christ-child. So, since this has been a season of entering into new community, our Advent theme has been [ENTER].

We started the first week with [Enter the Challenge]. We talked about the challenges presented by scriptures that portend the end of things when we are ready for happy and hopeful scriptures about the beginning of things. We explored how staying with the challenging scriptures can lead us to a more mature faith and a deeper understanding of the incredible grace that God extends to the world by choosing to enter into it radically and fully.

Advent 2 was called [Enter the Reality]. We invited a speaker to come and share about Mary's Place and the Church of Mary Magdalene, which serve homeless and formerly homeless women in Seattle. A woman shared about her journey from a life of homelessness and hopelessness. She now lives in a home and has been reunited with children from whom she had been separated. She stays active at Mary's Place as a mentor and example of what change can occur. Reality is something we often try to escape, but faith keeps us radically present in reality. God is radically present in reality by being born into our flawed and hurting world. God enters reality and so should we.

Advent 3 brought us to [Enter the Dream]. Relying upon the lectionary scripture Isaiah 61, we explored God's dream of a healed world. We also played with the lectionary and changed the gospel reading to Zechariah's Song, which also offers a dream of a different world.

On Advent 4, we will move to the theme [Enter the Song]. Mary and her Magnificat will take center stage. What song does our world need to hear? What song is in our hearts? We will use icons to explore moving through that which is right in front of us to something sacred and wondrous. Music does this, too. Music can take complicated ideas and dry and dull words and elicit deeply powerful emotions. Music helps us move deeply into experience. This week we [Enter the Song].

And, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we [Enter the Mystery] and [Enter the Poetry]. We arrive at our destination, and we enter fully into the miracle of God with Us.

I don't know how clear these themes have been to the people in the congregation, but they have been primary for me. I am trying to enter into their lives. We are trying together to enter into ministry with each other. We are trying to enter into a new year with hope and joy and trust. It seemed [ENTERING] would be a good fit for us. It is, after all, what we are doing with one another, and it is what God is doing with us all.


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