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Gratitude: when the world is on fire?

Dear Friends,

An article caught my eye today, it was titled, “Does Advent even matter when the world is on fire?”[1] Indeed.  Does Advent matter? The world certainly does seem to be on fire…is an introspective month of preparation for the Christ available to us? How can we light candles on an oasis ring full of fresh pine while wars rage, border crossers weep, impeachment proceedings fill our ears, Hong Kong and Chile protest, treaties break, politicians compete, and the globe warms another degree or two?

How can we sit down at Thanksgiving meals this week while the history of our Pilgrim ancestors and our Native American ancestors is under the microscope, while our country is experiencing a crisis of loneliness with more people eating alone on Thanksgiving than we realize, while too many people are still hungry?

Sarah Bessey says, “In these days, celebration can seem callous and uncaring, if not downright impossible.”  And yet….as Christians, we are called to impossible things all the time. And we are called to celebrate. Because given the state of the world, how can we not light those candles and prepare in fervent prayer for the Christ? How can we not be grateful for the bigger truth of God’s love in this whirlwind that makes us realize our immense need for God’s love?

We are called to be thankful in the middle of crisis.  We are called to pray in the middle of chaos.  We are called to prepare a space in our hearts every year for a God who was born in a barn 2000 years ago.  We are called to suspend reality and lean into the Holy even when the distractions of “real life” make that seem ridiculous.

Because we are paying attention to what is happening in the world, we know we need to gather together, make preparation, feast, give thanks, and send love and light and joyful energy out in to the world. Whether we are one person sitting at a table with a single candle and a bowl of ramen noodles, or one of 30 at a sprawling Thanksgiving table winding through three rooms of a crowded house, we are called to sit down for a meal this week and be grateful.

And when the turkeys have succumbed to the soup pots, and the houseguests have gone their way, and November rolls into December, we are called to begin Advent.   The Church will enter a new year and with it we will hold a new hope.  We will embody non-sensical joy.  We will create space, seek light, and be conduits of  love.   As the Body of Christ, awaiting the body of Christ yet again, we can BE the cool water on the fire of a blazing world.  We can be the balm for the soul of Creation to the very best of our ability, all over again.

May it be so,


[1] Bessey, Sarah, “Does Advent Even Matter When the World is on Fire: An invitation to December” Sarah Bessey’s blog. November 24, 2019.

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