One of the small challenges I face before Christmas is where to put the Christmas tree. Every year I commit to finding a better spot to raise the artificial greens, and every year it lands back where it was erected the year before. The problem is that our living room was not constructed to hold one more thing. The room is filled. One more item, like a Christmas tree, adds to a sense of clutter. The tree is beautiful; it’s what occupies the rest of the landscape that creates the problem. Making room is not easy.
The other day, Vicar Matt and I were discussing how the long journey with Covid-19 is affecting people. Many of us seem to be sinking deeper into a funk that expresses the loss, loneliness, chaos, and uncertainty of each day. There seems to be a cumulative toll being taken as we slog forward, now hoping a vaccination will bring the nightmare to an end. Our discussion was about how we might help people deal with this accumulation of emotional plaque in our hearts and souls.
Our theme for Advent this year is, “It’s About Time.” Advent is a season where we look back to the promises of God fulfilled eventually (don’t rush here) in the birth of Jesus. We look ahead to the time when Jesus Christ will come again to bring the process of New Creation to its consummation. Advent is about waiting with hope and patience for that time to come. Advent is about the present time of preparation for the way Christ comes to us every day, every hour. It’s about time.
I know that many of us have good memories of Thanksgiving. Some years might not have been so great or were downright difficult. Others leave many good memories. New marriages, new babies, new jobs, and all those other “new” life changes can be a rallying point to bring people closer together and recognize the relationships they cherish. Family feuds, partisan politics, issues related to money, and more can cause rifts to form between clans within a family. Some Thanksgivings are full of joy and gratitude. Others leave us unsatisfied and unthankful.
It seems to me that we are all getting a little irritable, a little cranky, about this whole pandemic thing.
We can pretend it is no threat or just yell at the virus and everything else. These, however, seem… well, unfruitful, shall I say? There is an answer that rises from faith, but if you’re like me, you may not like it.
You sit in the optometrist’s chair and they say, “A or B?” as they flip lenses. The choice is binary, one or the other. You cannot pick both. You cannot say, “Neither.” When our son was young, we learned never to ask open ended questions like, “What vegetable do you want for dinner?” We said, “Peas or green beans?” Our whole data driven world is binary – ones or zeros. Binary choice. We humans like binary choices.
Are you a caregiver? Visit www.holytrinityankeny.org for practical information and resources on caregiving.
Most of us experience the care and compassion of caregivers from the moment we are born. They take care of our every need when we arrive home from the hospital. They raise us and teach us about living in the world. They groom us to one day live on our own and be self-sufficient. As adults we meet illness and injury, some minor and short lived. Some lasting much longer than we had hoped. During those times we need caregivers. They may be professional caregivers, but many times they are spouses or other family members. Chances are we all have experienced or know someone who has needed a caregiver.
Since this Grace Notes is going to be available very close to the end of October, I thought that a little Halloween theme might be something interesting. One of my favorite “spooky” movies is the 1984 Ghostbusters. This movie does not take place during Halloween, which while it is a great movie, including that holiday would have made it even better, in my opinion. Nonetheless, the notion of being able to defeat, capture, and contain malevolent supernatural creatures (as well as mega-marshmallow manifestations) appealed to my younger self. That and nostalgia keep me a fan.
This week I read an article in Sojourners by Jim Wallis. The article is entitled “An Altar Call for the Election.” Now Lutherans do not do altar calls. If we did, I do not think it would be about an election. But the point of the article is more substantial than that. The altar call Wallis is speaking about is a call to take our identity seriously when we go to vote. Our identity as we know it is that of a beloved child of God. But there is more to that identity. The first chapter of the first book of the Bible lays out plainly who we are meant to be from the very beginning.
Troop Zero is a heartwarming movie about a group of kids who have been labeled uncool, lame, and losers by the “cool” kids. The “cool” kids are taught to think this way by the “cool” adults who think the same way about the parents of the misfit kids. When they try to be part of the scout troop in town, they are forced to form their own. Zero is assigned as the troop number to make a point.