Advent is a good time to take up the deep work of engaging racism and other issues that divide us. Advent is a time for waiting with hope. Christ was born in the midst of a divided and violent society.
Let me begin with an excerpt from the remarks of our Presiding Bishop in the Episcopal Church:
This nation was founded with a vision for freedom, a vision that has required repeated challenges in order to move toward true liberty for all the people of this land. Christians understand the sacred vision of the Reign of God as a society of peace with justice for all. May the life and death of Michael Brown drive us toward reconciliation that will shake the foundations of this nation toward the justice for which we were all created. The Episcopal Church will continue to partner and push for racial reconciliation in Missouri and across this land. I ask you to stand with hands extended in love, to look for the image of God in every neighbor, and to offer yourself in vulnerability for the sake of reconciliation across this land. May we become instruments of God's peace and healing, made evident in communities of justice for all.Read her whole statement here.
Some thoughtful questions:
1. Isaiah says “O, that you would tear open the heavens and come down” in the first reading of Advent. How can we expect Christ to come in the midst of conflict? Where do you see signs that the Spirit is moving in the midst of what is happening in Ferguson?
2. We often use the word “sanctuary” to describe a place in a church building. Some churches in St. Louis are serving as literal sanctuaries, where all who need a break from the protests of the streets are given water, medical attention, and a place to rest. How does your church serve as a sanctuary? How do you give rest and protection to those who need it?
3. The Very Rev. Mike Kinman, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, has compared the young women and men protesting in the streets of Ferguson to John the Baptist. What is the prophetic possibility in the midst of this conflict? To what new vision of community are we being called?
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen. (BCP p. 815)