Give Thanks, Lose Sleep

Yeah, ok, I’m not entirely sure what I mean by that title either. Maybe, if you take in my sermon from Sunday, you can help me figure it out? See, “what had happened was”…with our office schedule greatly reduced due to Thanksgiving week, I had to choose my sermon title four days earlier than normal. Perhaps that doesn’t sound like much of a difference, but that’s approximately a year-and-a-half in “Dave’s creative process” terms. It is a difficult task for me to entitle a sermon for which I have next to no idea what I’m going to say. (Though, to be fair, that can also happen when Thursday is my deadline.)

Anyway, this past Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent. I find that first Sunday in Advent feels like an odd juxtaposition: we’re still thinking about Thanksgiving — and even still enjoying the leftovers. But so much of the culture around us has already jumped ahead to Christmas Day. (Commercials! Hallmark channel movies! Special episodes! Other specials! So many specials!) Meanwhile, at church, Sunday was the beginning of Advent. Advent is also the beginning of the new liturgical year wherein we anticipate the Incarnation at Christmas — but aren’t there yet. Can we hold all these realities in tension? I guess we kinda have to.

Our textual guides this week don’t exactly scream Advent: in Isaiah 64 it seems to be artsy, crafty time as God is compared to a potter molding clay. Though I do end up finding comfort in one line at least.

Over in the gospels, we’ve jumped to the middle of Mark 13 for…parables about a fig tree and a guy taking a trip? We can’t even hardly leave our houses right now — what does this have to do with anything? As much as I can enjoy playing with parables, I focused instead on general themes in the gospel of Mark and on the conversation on the destruction of the Temple that precedes this reading.

Inspiration and information also sprung from:
The Rev. Hugh Hollowell, Jr. — “God has a plan and that plan is us.”
A walk on a cool night with a bright moon.
Hunger stats from my wonderful friends at Bread for the World.

Kindness matters. 
But kindness does not = justice. 

Civility counts.
But calling for civility is not the humane response to injustice. 
Justice is. 

Love is essential.
But love is not a passive, weeping bystander. 
Love puts in work.

Dr. Bernice King (emphasis mine)

Dr. Diana Butler Bass’ newsletter, The Cottage
“Know you are not alone feeling sadness or fear in these many months. But falling into despair is a sort of death. Light a candle of hope against all that has been lost.”

While this didn’t make it into the sermon, this line from the Netflix series Away stayed with me: “Thank you God for today’s blessings, tomorrow’s hope, and your abiding love.”

And of course I had some fun with my frequent partners, Hamilton and Marvel comics.

Oh! And if you want to see my completely embarrass myself with some ridiculous “dancing,” keep watching after the sermon. It’s become a bit of an annual Advent tradition to sing “King of Glory Comes” and dance. Thanks, Colbert!

Sure, the resolution is terrible, but who cares?! It’s Colbert doing liturgical dance!

Sermon highlights (as I see them; your milage may vary):
A reminder that we often use light and dark to mean good and bad, right and wrong, goodness and evil. So we must remember that metaphor was embodied in 400 years of slavery and Jim Crow and now mass incarcerations. Especially we who are white, must not use that metaphor casually, without remembering the cost of it. 

As the saying goes, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” That — literally and figuratively — is what Advent is all about. Especially here in the Northern Hemisphere. We light a candle as defiant hope in the midst of deepening darkness.

Sermon starts at 54:39. Silly dancing at 1:16:56.

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

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