Friday, December 4, 2015

Advent reflections from Waverly, Iowa

To follow is my latest column from our local Waverly newspaper.  My one shot to share something this Advent season...enjoy!


some of our treasures -
rearranged by grandson Z
Many of us have our Christmas trees up, favorite mementos of Christmas’ past are scattered around our home. We might even have Christmas music and the scent of cookies wafting from the kitchen.

All of this to build up to the celebration of our Lord and Savior’s birth! This is indeed a most wonderful time of the year. But bright lights and yummy cookies can’t mask the realities that some of our neighbors are facing.

News from Paris, Chicago or right here in Iowa reminds us that life is fragile and difficult for many people. Some of us may have someone special missing from the table this year, while others of us are struggling to figure out how to make ends meet let alone give our loved ones a special Christmas.

And don’t get me started about the Iowans who are reeling with the decisions they will have to make due to changes in funding for care of their vulnerable family members! So much is yet unknown - I am horrified by the way we are treating the least of these in our state.

In the midst of it all we are reminded that a baby was born. To a young family far from home, to a young woman named Mary who said yes to God’s call and claim on her life.

Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible puts it like this:

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.

(John 1:14 The Message)

Into the messiness of Bethlehem and into the messiness of Iowa and into the messiness of our own lives, Jesus comes…flesh and blood he has moved into the neighborhood. Not as a hateful or mean deity, but truly and completely the generous loving one-of-us, one-with-us, Son of God

Because of this Good News, we can face the unknowns with confidence, knowing that God is one of us, God is among us, God is within us…God is…and we, like Mary, can answer God’s call and claim on our lives to live as people of compassion for the least and the lost, the vulnerable and the struggling.

It’s not about presents under the tree it truly is about the journey – one day at a time, one conversation at a time with those who live in our neighborhood, who shop at our community groceries and who attend our schools, churches and various community events.

As we lean toward Christmas, during this season we in the church call Advent, let’s meet one another right where we are and build a new network of friends for this messy and glorious journey called life. While at times risky, I promise that you will be blessed by reaching out to folks in new ways and in new places.

Theology Pub - Monday nights @ The Fainting Goat!
Do go to church this Advent season – hang around for coffee and fellowship afterwards most Christians are good people just trying to figure it out. If that doesn’t work out come join us Monday nights at 6:30 at The Fainting Goat for Theology Pub – a safe place for conversation, community and fellowship.

I really hope that you and I will have an opportunity to strike up a conversation some time so that we can start building a bridge of friendship that transcends the material demands of Christmas and begins to build a more compassionate and caring world, the kind of world that grown up Jesus modeled and taught about long ago.

May you and yours be blessed in this season of Advent – this season of holy waiting and anticipation!

He rules the world with truth and grace,

And makes the nations prove

The glories of his righteousness,

And wonders of his love,

And wonders of his love,

And wonders, wonders, of his love.

(Joy to the World, Isaac Watts, 1719)

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