Godspeed. If you want to be totally refreshed and encouraged at a new (which is actually quite ancient) idea for "doing church," set aside 45 minutes or so to watch this. Then watch it with a church staff, or small group, or fellow pilgrims. I LOVED IT. I don't want to say much more. Just watch it.
Wanna Form a Band?! I played in pep and orchestral band in high school (picture me and my flute tooting "Ease On Down the Road" -- or don't...); my brother often plays in cover bands; my mom used to be in a ukulele band.... but sorry, I'm not talking about that kind of band. Good ol' John Wesley, his brother Charles, and George Whitefield started a little accountability and prayer group at Oxford that their friends mockingly called "the Holy Club." But out of that little group eventually emerged massive revival and transformation across England and eventually the US. A core aspect of the movement revolved around these tight little groups, which they called "bands." This link provides a 21st Century approach to forming such a group. Check it.
Celebrating Abundance: Devotions for Advent by Walter Brueggemann. I try to find a poignant, challenging, not-cheesy devotional every year for Advent, and folks, I found a WINNER this year. It's not too late, if you're still looking! Here's a quote that rang my bell:
In Advent, however, we receive the power of God that lies beyond us. This power is the antidote to our fatigue and cynicism. It is the gospel resolution to our spent self-sufficiency, when we are at the edge of our coping. It is the good news that will overmatch our cynicism that imagines there is no new thing that can enter our world. (my underlining)Let me know if you get a copy and we can exchange favorite quotes over and over... Brueggemann is such a gift.
Lectionary Poetry. This seems like a gold mine. Take a peek. It certainly tugs at my English major heart.
If I'm being honest, I'm a little ambivalent about December... for 11 years, Decembers were spent feverishly preparing for ski or winter camp that happened the week between Christmas and New Year's, and at the same time doing year-end fundraising to end the year in the black, however small that might be. I was always sick and exhausted by the end of the trip. And then for 15 years of working with the church, many preparations were needed for multiple celebrations and services. Often I was in charge of really big stuff like the candles at Christmas Eve (and scraping the spilled wax off the carpet afterward...) and turning off the lights at just the right moment for Silent Night.
What am I getting at? That the Christmas season has not always been easy street for some of us, not the warm, cozy time of Hallmark specials. I don't say that to feel sorry for myself, but to give myself permission (and perhaps a few of you) to not feel pressure to make this the. most. magical. time. of. the. year.
But I still do want to look for beauty and hope in unexpected places. I'll be gentle with myself (and hopefully others!) and keep Brueggemann's words from today's reading in mind:
But let me tell you the news that is proclaimed in Christ’s coming, about which we are reminded at every Communion service: Jesus has turned the world into abundance. God is the gift who keeps on giving, and the people around Jesus are empowered to receive abundance and therefore to act generously... We are recipients of enough and enough and more than enough, enough and enough and more than enough to share.Have a lovely month of abundance. Thanks for reading.