Tag Archives: Advent

#Awaken #AdventWord

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The Advent devotional project, #AdventWord  is offered by the Society of St John the Evangelist. Each day a word is provided and participants are invited to share images and/or reflections and to use hashtags so our reflections may be included in an Advent Calendar with others from around the world.

 

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Choose welcome

Here’s a piece written by Ryan Smith, my colleague at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations about responding to the call of the Rev. Gradye Parsons to “chose welcome” in relation to refugees. 

Our Stated Clerk, the Reverend Gradye Parsons invited Presbyterians to take a selfie with a banner saying “We Choose Welcome,” responding to fear of Syrian refugees. This week, my colleagues at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville joined together in the chapel to choose welcome themselves.

As I sat in my office in New York, across the street from the United Nations, I thought about welcome. I thought, as Rev. Parsons reminded us of the innkeeper not welcoming Mary and Joseph. I thought about our recognition of World AIDS Day and was reminded that it wasn’t until 2009 that HIV/AIDS status was no longer something that could block entry or green card status here in the United States.

I watch the flags float in front of the United Nations and am reminded that the UN, an intergovernmental body’s own Charter begins with “We the peoples…”

I am reminded that we are all “we the peoples.” No matter where you are born, where you live, what faith you practice, who you love, what race you are, or so much more. We the peoples are determined (as the United Nations Charter reminds us) “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…” “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours…”

So we choose welcome!

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations joins others in the faith community in advocating justice and peace within the United Nations system, including with governments from across the globe. The United Nations Charter sets the goal to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetimes has brought untold sorrow to mankind…”

While we have not seen a third World War, the succeeding generations of the authors of the United Nations Charter have seen war, conflict, strife. We know that right now, the UN estimates that more than 60 million people are displaced by violence and conflict. Presbyterians join ecumenical, interfaith and secular partners in advocating here at the United Nations, the one global roundtable.

A refugee himself, John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion said, “We are not to reflect on the wickedness of men but to look to the image of God in them, an image which, covering and obliterating their faults, an image which, by its beauty and dignity, should allure us to love and embrace them.” We should love and embrace all, no matter who they are or where they are from.

In this Advent season of anticipation and hope, I am thankful to be part of a community who today, across the street from the United Nations, joined Presbyterians in affirming “We Choose Welcome!”

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An invitation to “Choose Welcome”

I have posted one of my sermons about refugees as well as sermon from the Rev. Randy Clayton. Here’s a post from the blog of the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

I can count on one hand the number of times I have spent Christmas in my own home as an adult. We have shared that day with grandparents and other family. In a pre-Amazon era, we hid presents among the luggage and spent those days on the road just like Joseph and Mary. But of course I knew that my bed was there to welcome me when it was all over.saint mark presbyterian church holding a sign saying we choose welcome

Right now the United Nations says there are more than 60 million people displaced on our war-weary planet who will probably never see their home again. That’s the largest number ever recorded. They have left their homes because of violence, poverty, and fear. There is a story repeated around the world. Some armed men come to your house. They demand money from the parents. They demand that the son joins their gang. They want to sell the daughter into the sex trade underworld. You can’t go to the authorities because the gang is the authorities. What do you do as parents? You flee with your family.

As a church of 1.6 million people we can’t take in 60 million even if our government allowed it. But we can help change the way people talk about the 60 million. I recently put out a Facebook challenge asking congregations to take a selfie with a We Choose Welcome banner. The challenge was to send the photo to their public officials. One congregation that accepted the challenge is St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Rockville, Maryland. I want to give them a shout out.

Maybe your congregation is not ready to go on record on this issue. But sometime over the next Advent days we are going to once again bash the innkeeper for having no room for Joseph and Mary. So perhaps that can be a teachable moment for all of us.

Thank you Gradye!

See you along the Trail.

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Advent starts at 12:01 AM (EST in the U.S.A.)

Lion and lambAdvent begins on Sunday, a time of preparation and waiting. In conversations with my son about a discipline we plan to practice together, we decided to make 12:01 AM (EST in the U.S.A.) our starting moment. That may not be liturgically sound. But it is what we choose.

What is sound, and more than sound, as a way to enter the Advent season is to read Advent/Darkness, a post by Christina Cleveland. Here are a couple of excerpts to encourage you to read her whole post:

… Advent isn’t about our best world, it’s about our worst world. …

… But we do the Light a disservice when we underestimate the darkness. Jesus entered a world plagued not only by the darkness of individual pain and sin, but also by the darkness of systemic oppression. Jesus’ people, the Hebrews, were a subjugated people living as exiles in their own land; among other things, they were silenced, targets of police brutality, and exploitatively taxed. …

… Advent is an invitation to plunge into the deep, dark waters of our worst world, knowing that when we re-surface for air we will encounter the hopeful, hovering Spirit of God …

Read Advent/Darkness, re-read, ponder, and pray.

I wish you a holy Advent and a blessed Christmas.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Advent 19: Patient/Patience

Patience

May 2011
International Ecumenical Peace Convocation
University of the West Indies
Kingston, Jamaica

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Advent 18: Mercy

Mercy

March 2010
Barranquilla, Colombia

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Advent 17: Free

Kilmainham Gaol

4 May 2012
Kilmainham Gaol
Dublin, Ireland

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