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Why Advent Means More This Year

Advent wasn’t recognized as a season in the religious tradition I grew up in. I was always taught Christmas was a secular holiday since the Bible didn’t name Jesus’ birthday. God knows we didn’t want to be adding to the Good Book. I knew little of the Advent season or the liturgical calendar many Christian denominations celebrate. Shoot, I didn’t even know what Advent was until I married a woman from a different Christian tradition.

My journey with Jesus has taken a different course as I’ve grown older. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has always been a reflective time for me. Advent makes it especially so. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” – a translation of the Greek word parausia. In turn, parausia denotes a coming, arrival, or physical presence. Most of Christendom thinks of it as the Second Coming of Jesus. I prefer to focus on the first coming, the birth of Emmanuel – “God is with us”.

This year will not go on my Top Ten List of favorites. I lost my son, Jeremy, in May. COVID found its way to our home. Margaret is still suffering the long-term effects even though her symptoms were relegated to her oxygen levels and none of the other ones. We count ourselves blessed in that regard. Many of our friends have experienced the loss of loved ones due to COVID. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy causing so much anxiety and stress. More devastating is the emotional damage it’s caused.

Moreover, the social fabric seems broken almost beyond repair. The divisiveness, hatefulness, systemic racism, and social injustice feel unsurmountable. The election may be over, but the selfish narcissism of the orange-haired baby currently in the White House seeks to destroy anything that may benefit the incoming administration. Even more troubling is the fact that so many of his followers chose untruths over reality. Communication lines are non-existent, and fear runs rampant. This year has made hope feel out of reach.

Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

Advent is more important than ever in 2020. It’s the reminder that God is indeed with us even in the brokenness and pain. Advent allows me to look backward: to acknowledge the hurt, the pain, and my shortcomings that holds God at bay. It reminds me of my own powerlessness without God with me. It opens my eyes and my heart to the God that has been there through all of it

It certainly doesn’t feel like it at times, but Advent reminds me that feelings are not reality. This Advent season I hope and pray for the recognition of God’s presence right here, right now. I pray for the constant reminder that God is with us – plural. If God is with you, I pray for the vision to see God in my fellows.

“If God is for us then who can be against us?” Romans 8.31

Note: I discovered a great resource for this season of Advent –

“Low: An Honest Advent Devotional” by John Pavlovitz (www.johnpavlovitz.com)

Maybe we can take the season’s journey together…

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My Prayer Today

I found this jewel this morning…

“My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you

does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore, I will trust you always though

I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

– Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

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“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela

“If life knocks you down nine times you get up ten”, Edgar would always tell me. The greatest compliment I’ve ever received was “there’s no quit in him”. Despite failures (and there have been many!) I’ve kept pressing forward. Thank you to all those who stand up again. You’ve shown me what persistence means.

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Voting Our Principles

Yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had all year. I received notice that my new subsoiler for my tractor was ready to pick up. Then I got to cast my early vote in the 2020 election. Other small farmers are about the only ones who can understand my excitement about a subsoiler, but I hope everyone shares in the privilege of voting.

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A couple of days ago, NPR reported that Texas leads the nation in early voting. I spoke with one of the poll workers yesterday who said they’ve had a line all day every day since early voting began. The pundits call this one of the most important elections in American history. Given the increase in voter participation I would be inclined to agree with them.

There was a time when I questioned whether I should participate in political systems or not. I was disheartened and frustrated by the hypocrisy I saw in the Christian Right. As Lord Acton said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Once the Christian Right got a bit of political power and voice… need I say more…

As a Jesus follower I know where my true citizenship lies – I don’t serve Caesar – but that doesn’t not absolve of participation in the political process. How I use my vote is of paramount importance.

I believe that my vote is a vote for those who have no voice – who will best serve the poor, the marginalized, and what Jesus called “the least of these”. Who will best implement policies that benefit them?

“Those who want to live according to biblical truth have a political responsibility to try to bring about the kingdom of God as much as possible and as soon as possible.”

– Virginia Mollenkott

My prayer today is that each of you will vote and do so according to your principles and values. I did yesterday and regardless of the outcome on Tuesday, it was a great day.