the season to dress yourself warmly, yes? no? No doubt.
know how cold it was this week – The Egan Warming Center was
open this week Monday, Tuesdsay, Wednesday nights. 4 sites
across town with open doors to those without shelter. 60 or so
people here sleeping in our basement. (or tell sleeping bag
story donations all week).
winter has taken me by surprise. I’ve looked in my closet
multiple times this week and said, I’d like to have warmer
was cold! A season to dress warmly and I’ll add a twist.
is the season to dress yourself in warmth.
is the season of anticipation, of hopeful expectation. We
celebrate Jesus’ birth, most likely not his actual Birth Day,
but we do celebrate it. And with his birth the unfolding of a
life story that shows radical kindness, radical generosity,
astounding warmth and ability to change other’s lives. Advent
is also the season when we are reminded to cultivate something
yourself permission to grow, to be open to the possibility of
rebirth, of new creation – to change - it is an act that
requires a particular clothing. Spiritual clothing.
The stars above the sanctuary carry prayers
and the names of loved ones.
The first bit
of good news this morning:
actually wear makes no difference at all to God. It all comes
from the source. The physical packaging you come in creates a
unique story but does not prevent you from connecting with the
creative source. No matter how far out there you are.
especially important to say this morning because this section of
Romans that I am preparing to read – and I will read from the
Message – I do so on purpose…
See, we don’t
have time to talk about the significance of purity in this
culture of Rome or the second return of Christ and how important
and influential that belief was in the lives of these early
But I will
say that my own cultural and social location is such that when I
read Romans I sometimes cannot hear the message though all the
judgment and finger pointing.
Dan knows his
Romans – as soon as I told him Romans 13 was in the lectionary
for Advent – he said, “Oh, and what will you add to the bit on
sexual immorality?” We all had a good laugh in staff meting
and then tried to think of Christmas carols.
You and I
want to hear good news. Things that encourage alertness
and openness. Not alertness and defensiveness, anger,
definitely not shame. So I read the Message, a paraphrase, no
doubt, but I receive it more peacefully.
sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking
care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track
of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is
about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what
God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the
salvation work he began when we first believed. We can't
afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious
daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping
around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything
in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and
linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves
in Christ, and be up and about!
The day is
almost here! The dawn is about to break – these phrases are
familiar to you because it is a common Christian theme. Often
associated with Easter – but not entirely - the day break
signifies a special time – a New Age. Yes your rapture antennae
are appropriately raised.
Now is the
Time to get Dressed.
what? What if nothing happens? Which had (I hope and
pray) to be a conversation for the Romans. See, we can’t just
put on these clothes because the big day is coming, that cannot
be enough. It’s not worth getting dressed for if there is a
chance it won’t happen.
But I’m not
going there today. I’m not talking final salvation, I’m
talking about daily salvation. Think Daily New Creation.
Being open to
newness – and what may grow out of it – is a universal longing
in this world. We want to be made new, want to see change in
our lives. And universally a challenge.
We put on the
clothes of Christ, because these are the clothes that fit us.
When you look in the figurative closet of emotional choices –
and you have quite the collection – the clothes of the spirit
are the ones that make us feel whole. That do not make us
question our ability, our integrity, our purpose. The presence
– the spirit – of Christ is Open, truthful, critical, generous,
warm, passionate, in the moment.
I watched a
television interview with the Dalai Lama years ago and he said
that every morning he is aware he has a choice in attitude and
that he must shape his motivation every morning – otherwise he
might not get out of bed in the morning. This is a man most
consider Holy across many cultures and contexts. This is a man
who is still actively creating peace, hope, and joy in his
life. He still struggles and suffers and fails.
piece of Good News today:
It is not a
contest, it is not a race. Every – one gets tired, and
distracted, and misses the point.
you’ve noticed that your work has been so completely
absorbing that time for yourself, the down time, the book
nook time is gone by the wayside? It is time.
you’ve noticed that the invitation to be thankful this week
was completely submerged by the invitation to purchase ½
you are aware that the stress in your life is building. Or
that you are running from the same difficult conflict week
after week - or if you are simply ready for something new -
It is time. This invitation from Romans is for you - You
can wake up.
Be gentle and
in return God will Gently lead you– by hope, love, joy, peace.
These are gifts that when embodied bring light into the world.
The attitudes that can help us get through the night. The
clothes we put on each day, in each moment as best we can.
have to have them all. In fact often you don’t.
aware of the presence of Christ and allow it to rest on you like
your most comfortable sweat pants or your most attractive suit.
Whichever you prefer.
Happy Advent to you – May you
find yourself renewed.