Tomorrow Advent begins

Already, it’s Advent. Which means a couple of things:

1) Add together Thanksgiving, Ferguson, and Advent – what a brew. God help me preach with conviction and balance tomorrow to an Asian/Caucasian congregation. Which brings up…

2) As of November 10, I started as the 1/2-time stated supply pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, a church that needs to decide how to go into the future. This work will keep me grounded in the ‘institutional’ church that struggles to find its way as the props keep being kicked out beneath it or from within it. Or as the culture around it seems less and less interested. Or as the Risen Christ keeps calling the Body to morph/evolve/adapt/repent/die and rise again – as what, into what, God knows – so that it can engage the present culture of spiritual but not religious/unchurched/ dechurched/agnostic/atheist/whatever it is in a life-changing way.

3) Sanctuary for the Arts holds its 10th monthly worship service on Advent 2, Sunday, December 7, at 5:30pm. We are gonna DO Advent! Especially because I need it (it’s about me, you know), and because church pastors who put on Advent for others need it, and because we all just need a way into this crazy hurting world that connects with the birthing of the Christ into it all. Isaiah 40:1-11 is the text, and the bolded and underlined words are the ones that touch me most deeply:

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. 2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. 3A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5Then the glory of the Lordshall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 6A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. 7The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. 8The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. 9Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

What will come through the hearts and minds of those gathered, in story, song, music, and movement, as we respond to this text in the light of our own lives and the life of this world? Who knows. One thing is for sure – it will be powerful, deep, and moving. I so look forward to it as a way to reconnect to one another, to encounter the Living One in a dancing community of seekers, and to gather strength for being in the world.

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