Optical illusions, Casseroles, and Moose

This morning, we are celebrating Epiphany.  Technically, Epiphany is on January 6, but we moved it up to today because it worked better with our preaching schedule.

When I started as a pastor 11 years ago, I was given the job of preaching on Epiphany, and I remember asking, “What’s Epiphany?” as I really had no idea.

There are two things going on at Epiphany.

The first is a more technical understanding.  An epiphany is a sudden or striking realization.  It’s an “Aha!” moment.   A light bulb turning on.  A “Eureka” moment! A moment where we fog is lifted and we now see.

Like this for example. mainimage

Do you see an old woman, or a young woman?

And then, that moment where you see both of them… Ah!  There it is!

That’s an epiphany.

The second thing about Epiphany Sunday is it’s where we celebrate the magi from the East coming to visit the child Jesus, and bring him frankincense, myrrh, and gold.

Now there’s a lot of lore and myth around the story of the magi.  We call them wisemen, magi, kings, astrologers… We talk about three, but their number is unknown.  Over the centuries we’ve even given them names! Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior!  (Not exactly high on the baby names of 2015 though).

For this morning, it doesn’t really matter.  We’re just going to roll with the plot of some people from afar came and visited Jesus.

But, a quick aside.  There’s a joke going around on social media every Christmas.   Have you ever wondered what it would have been like if the three wise men were women?  They would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, brought practical gifts, and there would be peace on earth.  Har har.  Very funny. I resent this, as I make a mean casserole, helped deliver my kids, and can change a diaper with my eyes closed.

Okay. Back to the journey of the magi.

But let’s start with the word “journey.”

I like the idea of journeys. It’s a word that signifies experience. It signifies adventure.  It’s a word that signifies to us that the destination isn’t the only goal.  That how we get there is partly the point.  It helps us understand that we’ve never truly arrived, that we’ve never finished, that every step is part of the experience.

When I go canoeing, I love getting to the campsite for the day.  I love setting up the tent and making a fire and watching the sun go down.  I love watching the sun rise in the morning and showing my kids the beavers swimming by.

But the campsite isn’t the only goal.  I also love getting to the campsite.  Where every corner you turn you look for a moose in the shallows.  Where you see a fish a jump close to you.  Where you see fallen trees and cliffs and bays waiting to be explored.

In a journey, every part of it is included in the experience.

We also use this language for faith.  Not a destination.  A journey.

It’s where we understand that being a disciple of Jesus, that growing in our faith, that learning to love and forgive, learning to trust God, is a continual process. We’ve never really arrived.  We can usually be sure that if we thinking we’ve arrived is a sign that we haven’t.  God is never really done with us, and very few of us claim to have this whole spirituality thing nailed down, or consider ourselves experts in grace and peace, so we use the language of journey.  Where every new day is a new challenge and opportunity.  Where every time we stray from the path, we can get back on the path.  Faith journey has become part of our vocabulary.

Years ago, I was taking a CMU course with a prof from Harvard, Sharon Daloz-Parks, and besides being an incredible teacher, she said something that has stuck with me ten years later.

She said that while she understands why we use the word “journey” to describe our faith, she found it to be a bit to individualistic and self-centered. That faith is my journey with God, and really, if this is my journey, who are you to criticize it?

This, I believe, has led to many of us in Canada say, “Well, we’re spiritual, but not religious.”  Which, on one hand, I totally get and understand and have respect for this. We believe that life is bigger than us an our individual successes and Boxing Day shopping, but we don’t want to participate in religious rites and rituals that don’t give us life.  But on the other hand, if you were to ask how our “non-religious spirituality” affects our lives, very few of us would cite extra giving, or volunteering, or mediation, or shoveling extra driveways, or loving our enemies.

When we make faith a journey only about ourselves and God, we risk people hiding behind the idea of God while exhibiting very little transformation in their lives.

**Note – Christians are also really, really, really good at hiding behind the idea of God while exhibiting very little transformation in their lives.  Heck, I’m pretty good at hiding behind the idea of God.**

So, my prof told us that instead of the word journey, she uses the word “pilgrimage”.

A pilgrimage is a trip to a holy site, and when we’re there, we encounter something divine that changes us. And then, we go back home, bearing gifts for our community.

A journey is about a trip and back.  A pilgrimage is about being changed and blessing our communities.

It’s like MCC’s SALT program that I went to Zimbabwe with 13 years ago.  SALT is an acronym for Serving and Learning Together, where they send young people around the world to work in a variety of NGO’s for a year. And when we got back, at our debriefing, they said to us.

“We kind of tricked you. We sent you to serve and learn, but really, while the serving you was great, if we really only cared about that, we could have hired locals to do the work you did with much for efficiency, since they understand the local language and culture.  But, what we really send you out to do was to learn. To learn about who you are and a bit more about the world and a bit more about God, and now that you’re going home, you’re going to take all that you learned and go and serve at home.  We thought about calling the program Learning and Serving Together, but the acronym LAST isn’t quite as good as SALT.”

You’re going to take what you learned with you and serve at home. A pilgrimage.

I now like to think of the journey of the magi as the pilgrimage of the magi, where they left everything to go and encounter Jesus, and because of that experience, their lives were never the same.

They allowed an encounter with Jesus to change them.  They had an epiphany, their “Aha!” moment. They re-orientated their lives around it.  They followed a star to a foreign land and met a king.

At Christmas time, it’s really easy to go on a journey to visit baby Jesus.  We have children’s concerts and Steve Bell played with the WSO and we have Christmas carols everywhere and churches fill up for Advent, especially on Christmas Eve.  We donate extra money, volunteer more, and go caroling with our friends.  We talk about the Christmas spirit being in the air.

So maybe a better question for us to ponder is, do we allow those experiences to change us?  What gifts do we bring back to our community?  Are we more generous?    Peaceful?  Loving?  Hopeful?

As we have for all our Advent services, we’ll have a slideshow of paths and offer a time of reflection.  As we reflect today, let’s ask ourselves,

Because of our pilgrimage to the manger on Christmas, what gifts are we bringing back to our community?

 

 

Advertisements

The Feast of St. Nicholas, the original Santa Claus

St.-NicholasOver the past few months, we at Grace been learning about the saints, and celebrating their faith stories by having mini-feasts in the foyer.

This morning, we are celebrating St.  Nicholas, the original Santa Claus.

Nicholas was born in 3rd century to rich parents in what is now Turkey. However, they died when he was as young boy and was raised by his uncle, a bishop.

His parents had left him an inheritance, and one of the first things that he did was promptly give it all away to the poor, the sick, and children in need.

He is remembered for quite a few acts of generosity, many of those giving little heed to his own life and safety. There’s a story of him standing between a slave owner and his property.  There’s another one of him standing between an executioner and his victim.  And one of him un-kidnapping a boy.

But the one is most remembered for is his rescuing of three girls from slavery.  Back in those days, families had to provide dowries for their daughters when they got married. The bigger the dowry, the higher up the socio-economic status they could marry. The smaller the dowry, the lower they could marry. No dowry meant no marriage, and were thus were usually condemned to live their lives as sex workers or slaves.

One poor father had three daughters, and was planning on selling them into slavery.  One night, Nicholas went to their house and threw three bags of gold in through the window so that the girls wouldn’t have to be sold.  The story goes that the three bags of gold ended up in socks that were drying by the fire, and that is why we, still to this day, hang our stockings by the chimney and put presents in them.

Although giving away our parent’s inheritance to strangers so they don’t have to live lives of destitution and slavery, is certainly a little more saint like than giving iPads and Xbox’s to our children.

And so, after our worship, enjoy your coffee and paperpnet, peppernuts, or however you say that word… enjoy it and celebrate the generosity of St. Nicholas.

** A big thanks to Shane Claiborne and Pete Enns and Wikipedia for the info and blatant plagiarism.**
 

A weekend at your in-laws, Grade 4, and the Return of the Jets

A third advent sermon on Ezra 1:1-4, 3:1-4, 10-13


 

The Old Testament is full of stories that tell the history of the Israelites.  It’s a library of books that were written by different people in different places for different reasons.  We have books of law and books of history and books of poetry and books of wisdom and books of prophecy.

And, every once in a while, if we’re able to take a step back, we notice something remarkable about these books.  They don’t only include the positive sides of the story.  They also include the negatives.  The criticisms.

For every good king we read about, there’s a prophet, saying, “Hey!  Wake up!  You’re still missing something here!”

For every good character we read about, we read about many of their dark sides and their penchant to lie, steal, kill, commit adultery, and ignore the poor around them.

We so desperately want to create categories of people and kingdoms and stories and label them as either good or bad, but if read these stories carefully, they just don’t give us a lot of fairy tale endings.

It takes as mature person to criticize their people while remaining among them.  It takes a mature person to criticize their faith, while remaining within it.  It takes a mature person to criticize their country, their church, or even themselves and their family, while remaining in it.

Today’s story is one of those stories.

So let’s pull out the old map, because trying to read these Old Testament stories without knowing what’s going on is always a bad idea.  photo.PNG

The Israelites were in Egypt as slaves.  Moses led the out, and then spent 40 years wandering the desert.  Then they set up a kingdom here, and couldn’t quite figure out how to get along, so it split into two.  Then the big bad Assyrians came and wiped out the Northern Kingdom.  Then the big bad Babylonians came and wiped out the Assyrians and took most of the Southern Kingdom back to Babylon, and this is called the exile.  And then the big bad Persians came and took over the Babylonians, and then Cyrus, King of the Persians, tells Ezra to lead the Jews home to go and rebuild their temple.

And this is where we pick up the story. After getting beaten up and kicked around and kidnapped and killed for the last two hundred years, the people were going home.

Oh yeah, we’re going home.  Kind of like how you feel after a long weekend at your in-laws.  Only imagine living there for decades. See ya!  It’s good to be home.

Only, we read in verse 3 that when they went home, the land wasn’t empty.  People who were left behind from the exile were still there.  Foreigners who moved in to the land, armies had left people there after conquest.  The land wasn’t empty, and Ezra and his people were afraid.  Afraid of the conflict that might arise.  Afraid that their hopes and dreams might be dashed.  Afraid that their safety was at risk.  Afraid that the houses their grandparents had built were being lived in by others.  Afraid of people who were different than them.  Afraid of the unknown.  Afraid.

This is also why some of these Old Testament stories are great.  They’re quite universal.  We are still afraid today.

Some of us are afraid of Muslims.  Some of us are afraid of going bankrupt. Some of us are afraid of dying.  Some of us are afraid of being labelled a failure.  Some of us are afraid for our safety.  Some of us are afraid of not having enough money to retire.  Some of us are afraid of losing our jobs.  Some of us are afraid that Christianity will lose its perceived influence.  Some of us are afraid that we’re not doing enough good in this world.  Some of us afraid of our futures.

This is universal.   It’s okay.  We’re all afraid of something.

Now, satistically speaking, we live in the best time in the history of the world.  Most of us in Canada are going to have the highest quality of lives every available to humans, ever, and what do we with that?  We buy cell phones for our children in elementary school because of safety concerns.

I read recently that in some schools, one quarter of kids in grade 4 have cell phones.  In every instance, the parent cited safety as the primary reason to get one.  I told this stat to a bunch of teenagers, and they all laughed.  “Of course we told our parents we needed cell phones for our safety.  We knew that was our best chance of getting one!”

We are afraid.  How we’re afraid may look different to each of us, but we are afraid.

I’m going to say two things about being afraid.

Number one.  We are not allowed to put our own safety before that of others while claiming we follow Jesus.  No.  Can’t do it. I know why we do it, because who doesn’t want to be safe?  But when we use the excuse of our safety to deny the opportunity to love of others, we are not following Jesus.  Putting your own security and safety before the well-being of others is something that Jesus didn’t say.

Can you imagine Jesus not talking to some people because he was afraid of them?  Or not healing them?  Or not having supper with them? Or not hanging out with them?  Or not living with them?  He did his ministry with enemy soldiers and violent revolutionaries and sex workers and tax collectors and foreigners and people with communicable diseases, and never once cited his safety as a concern.

And he ended up on a cross, while loving and forgiving the people who were killing him.  We shouldn’t act surprised, because this is exactly what Jesus invites his followers to.

If taking up our cross to follow Jesus doesn’t mean to embark upon a life that risks suffering, loss and even death, then what does it mean? (Brian Zahnd).

Doing to others as you would have them do to you does not include any clauses about risk and safety.

So we do not get to say that we are putting our trust in Jesus and then put our own welfare before that of others.

That means that we open our doors to refugees.

That means that open our doors to Muslims.

That means that we don’t talk poorly of others in our coffee shop conversations.

That means we don’t spread falsehoods and on Facebook and fact  check any pictures we share.

That means we don’t advocate violence against others.

That means we don’t blame helping others for health care wait times or tax rates or housing availability.

Jesus asks us to take up a cross.  Surely, then, we shouldn’t be surprised when we actually have to do so.

Do to others as you would have them to unto you.

Number 2:

We all have our own fears, anxieties, our own doubts, sin… Our own issues.  But when we don’t acknowledge them, and seek healing for them, what we end up doing is projecting them onto a different person, or a different group.  It’s called scapegoating, and it is evil.  As soon as we scapegoat another group,  as soon as we blame another group, as soon as we name ourselves as better than someone else, or more deserving than someone else, then ever so slightly we open the door to bullying, exclusion, racism, violence, genocide, and crucifixion.  If you want to see the devil work wonders in our world, check out all the scapegoating.   When we say that we’re just being safe, we have to help those at home first, that they’re different than us so they wouldn’t fit in, it is the Devil masquerading as an angel of light.

When we hear someone blame another group for something, chances are that it’s a form of scapegoating.

Have we been paying attention for the past few months?

We’ve scapegoated Muslims.

We’ve scapegoated refugees.

We’ve scapegoated Syrians.

And we in the church are equally to blame.  We have a long and proud history of scapegoating other groups.  We love circling the wagons and creating enemies and getting everyone riled up and afraid.

We’ve scapegoated other religions.

We’ve scapegoated other denominations.

We’ve scapegoated sexual minorities.

We’ve scapegoated political parties we disagree with and people who don’t vote like us.

We’ve scapegoated people who don’t believe the same doctrine as us.

As Canadians, are we able to learn from our own history?

We’re turning 150 years soon.  And in those years,

We’ve scapegoated Jews.

We’ve scapegoated Chinese.

We’ve scapegoated Japanese.

We’ve scapegoated Muslims.

We’ve scapegoated the French, the English, the Germans, the Irish, the Ukrainians, and the Mennonites.

We’ve scapegoated women.

And sweet mercy me have we every scapegoated First Nations people.

When we, as humans, are afraid, we have the capacity to do terrible things to others.

CBC has shut down the comments section on its website for articles on First Nations people because of the racist comments people were writing.

The Holocaust museum in New York issued a statement comparing the rhetoric around Syrian refugees to the rhetoric of Jewish refugees pre-World War II.  Pre-Holocaust, Canada only let in 5000 Jewish refugees, with one official even saying, “None is too many.”  The Holocaust killed 6,000,000 Jews.

When we are afraid, and when we blame other groups for our problems, we can do terrible things.

You may not have noticed, but almost every pronoun I have used this sermon is in the first person, using either “I” or “we.”  Why?  Because the first step to not scapegoating is to not use “us vs. them” language.  It’s hard, and it’s sloppy at times, but talking about others as “we” at least attempts to see our connection to others, and our own ability to make mistakes, whereas talking about “them” easily turns into “enemies.”

Now, back to the story of Ezra for a moment.  I am fully aware that me up here preaching to not be afraid doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re all going to go home not be afraid anymore.

Our text this morning tells us that despite their fears, Ezra and the Israelites kept building the temple.

And when they were done, they sang the following:

“God is good.  His love towards Israel endures.”

In this story, the Israelites had been kicked around, killed, and kidnapped for almost two centuries, and what are the words from their lips?

God is good.  His love endures forever.

They gathered together to remind themselves that even though they are afraid, there is a different story to listen to.  Sometimes we have to turn off the news, turn off social media, turn off the coffee shop banter… Sometimes we have to turn our heads a bit and listen real carefully.

God is good.  His love endures forever.

The story is there.  It’s always been there. We’ve heard it before.  Are we listening?

God is good.  His love endures forever.

Our story of Ezra ends with something unique.  It’s one of those parts of the story where they’re quite mature in writing down what actually happened.

Ezra and the people left Babylon, lived with their fears, remembered that God is good, and finally rebuilt the temple.  And when it was done, some of the people were letting out whoops of joy and excitement and acting like the Winnipeg Jets were back in town!

But others… they wept. They remembered what the temple was like, and realized that this temple, in comparison, stunk.

They realized that the future was not the past.

Similar to us, our future is not our past.

We don’t know how Canadians are going to respond to an increase in refugees and Muslims.

We don’t know who the Americans are going to elect President.

We don’t know what our current government is going to do, and what will happen again in 4 years.

We don’t know what our families are going to look like, what our jobs will be like, what our church will be like, what our country will look like.

All that we know, it that the future is probably not going to look like the past.

That’s what the Israelites realized all those years ago.  And that’s what we’re still realizing to this day.

As we all look to an unknown future, with all our own fears, are we listening?

Are we able to hear?

Are we able to trust?

Are we able to trust God?

Trust that God is with us?

O Come O Come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.

Arms Dealers, High School English Debates, and Scrooge

Some thoughts on Advent, starting off in 2 Kings 22:1-10, 23:1-3.


 

The books of 1 and 2 Kings tell the stories of Israel’s kings.

On a very simple (but honest) level, they’re not that exciting to read.  They’re more or less lists which kings were good, which ones were bad, and how long they reigned for.  There’s not a lot of plot.  Not a lot of detail.  There is some, such as in this morning’s but usually our weekly church bulletin is longer than some of the description of the kings and their rules.

So, we heard the story of Josiah, here’s a brief summary of the few kings before him.

Hezekiah.  Good king.  Did some good reforms.  Wrote some prayers.

Manasseh.  Bad king.  Really bad king.  Even ended up sacrificing his son to other gods.

Amon.  Bad king.  Killed by his own people.

Josiah.  Good king. 8 years old when he became a king.

When I read these stories, I am once again reminded how these stories are from a really different time and a different place.  Can you imagine Justin Trudeau dying, and his son Xavier becoming Prime Minister?  I think this would be one of those things where we call agree that he just wouldn’t be ready.

While I’m sure he had a few advisors, here’s Josiah, running the kingdom as an 8 year old.   And one of the things he does is that he orders the temple to be restored.  5 decades of bad kings had left the temple in disarray.

And lo and behold, they find a book.

Scholars debate what the book was, but most agree that it was some form Deuteronomy, but they can’t agree on which chapters it was.  But that doesn’t matter all that much to us today.

We’ll just go with, “Josiah found part of the Bible that had been neglected for about 50 years.”  And then Josiah had it read to him, and then to the entire kingdom, and they all agreed to listen to the it and get back on track.  I can’t imagine an 8 year old getting excited about Deuteronomy, let alone an entire kingdom, but whatever.  Different time and place, I guess.

The king, the elders, the priests, the prophets, the people… they all woke up to the word of the LORD and tried to follow God with all their heart and soul.

The word of God was once again with the people.

This book changed them.  It refocused their attention to God, and God’s intentions of peace for the world.  Peace with God, peace with others, peace with self, and peace with the Earth… Everything being in right relationship with each other.  Justice for all.

Justice for all…

Sometimes, it’s kind of hard to imagine justice for all these days, isn’t it?

Pope Francis, whom I consider an honourary Mennonite, had some sobering words for the world last week.

He said, “We are close to Christmas. There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war.

It’s all a charade. The world has not understood the way of peace. The whole world is at war,” Pope Francis said. “A war can be justified, so to speak, with many, many reasons, but when all the world as it is today, at war, piecemeal though that war may be—a little here, a little there—there is no justification.”

“What shall remain in the wake of this war, in the midst of which we are living now?  What shall remain? Ruins, thousands of children without education, so many innocent victims, and lots of money in the pockets of arms dealers.”

“We should ask for the grace to wee for this world which does not recognize the path to peace. To weep for those who live for war and have the cynicism to deny it.. God weeps, Jesus weeps”.

Justice for all…

Let’s go back to the story of Josiah.  50 years of evil, and then an encounter with the Word of God changes them.  They wake up, pay attention, repent, get back on track, and remember how to live as God’s children in this world.  It’s a movement towards faithfulness and justice.  That once Josiah and the people woke up, they realized that there was another way to live.

I think Advent can be a similar time for us. Not that we’re necessarily doing evil for the past 50 years, but it serves as a time where an encounter with the Word of God changes us.  Especially because it’s a season where we anticipate the word becoming flesh, a babe, born in a manger.  We wake up, we pay attention, we repent, we get back on track, and we remember how to live as God’s children in this world.  Advent can be a movement towards faithfulness and justice, and a new way to live.

And the ways we do this are really only limited by our own imaginations.

This new way to live means that we buy items to make MCC hygiene kits.  Arianna is in kindergarten, so she’s only beginning to understand that not everyone in the world has toothbrushes and toothpaste and soap.  So we told her that every Monday, when we go to Sobeys to buy our food, we’re going to buy some toothbrushes for kids who don’t have any.   She quickly reminded me that if we were going to buy toothbrushes, we definitely needed to buy toothpaste too.

And so, every Monday, as part of us turning towards God and seeking justice, we’re buying toothbrushes and toothpaste.  And Zach loves it, because he just gets to brush his teeth in the shopping cart, package and all.

(Click here for more info on MCC hygiene kits)

In terms of gift giving, Ash and I started something years ago.  We noticed that we loved our grandparents, but they weren’t exactly in the market for more things.  Actually, the past 10 years have been all about them downsizing.  And so, once again, as part of us turning towards God and seeking justice, we head off to Ten Thousand Villages and buy an MCC living gift.  This year, given the large number of refugees in the world, we were grateful for the chance to buy food for families in refugee camps.  And sorry Grandpa… you now know what you’re getting for Christmas from us.

(Click here for more info on MCC Christmas Giving)

And hey… speaking of refugees. I wasn’t here last Sunday, but I heard it was announced that we’re sponsoring a family of 8 from Syria.  Talk about rearranging our lives because of justice.

I want to tell you a story about this.

We have a really great group of teenagers who come to youth, and love serving in Pauingassi, but for a variety of reasons, they’re not here on Sunday mornings.  But they all say that they’re Gracers, and fiercely claim this church as their own.

On Tuesday, one of the told me that he had gotten into a debate in his English class about whether or not Canada should accept Syrian refugees.  He was quite frustrated with one of his classmates, who was threatening to leave town if some Syrians showed up because she feared her own safety, and with a bit of a smirk, he said, “Well, pack your bags, because my church is bringing some over.”

Obviously, being so antagonistic (and a tad malicious) might not have been the wisest course of action, but I really do love that this Advent, we are preparing our lives by preparing to welcome a refugee family. In all of the Christmas paegents and carols and nativity scenes, we often forget that shortly after his birth, Jesus and his parents were Middle Eastern refugees, looking for a safe place to live.

(Email me at kyle.grace@mts.net if you want to know how to help with refugee resettlement).

Justice for all.

But Advent is also a time for inner reflection.  Justice is important, but, as wiseman Mel has taught me, how we live on the outside is usually a reflection of who we are on the inside.

The past several weeks, I’ve been paying attention to my feelings.  And I haven’t always been excited about what’s lurking underneath.  I’ve noticed my frustration over people continuing to choose violence.  I definitely had a period of rage over peoples fear of Muslim refugees.  I am/was angry at people choosing to put their own perceived safety and security before those of people fleeing war.  I’ve also noticed my cynicism towards all these outward expressions of generosity that seem to only appear at Christmas time (like how everyone wants to volunteer at Christmas but not on July long weekdend).   I know.   I can be a bit of a Scrooge.

But if I actually stop and think about my cynicism and anger and grumpiness, I can’t exactly say that that’s a great place to be.  It’s not a very life giving place.

How in the world can I seek justice in the world without attending to own heart?  Do I want to volunteer on July long weekend?  (The answer to that is NO.)

I’m reminded of this haunting line from Thomas Merton:

“Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”

O Come O Come Emmanuel, right?

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Oh man, do I ever need little baby Jesus to come and put my heart on the right path…. To disperse the gloomy clouds of night.

When we pay attention to the story, when we pay attention to the word made flesh, it exposes our need for a better way.

Advent prepares our hearts by encountering the word of God, the story of Jesus, and being changed by it.

Instead of cursing the darkness, Advent invites us to light a candle.

Much grace and peace to us all this Christmas season as we walk the path of justice, for it’s on that road that we will find our freedom.