#AdventWord 2018, Week 1

#Journey

Today is the first day of the liturgical new year, and the season of Advent in particular. Follow #AdventWord & take part in a crowdsourced countdown to Christmas Day!

Today’s word is Journey—take a moment to reflect on Migrant Rights by learning about SanctuaryDowntownSeattle.com & the faith communities standing up for immigrant justice in Seattle.

#Watch

Today’s #AdventWord is ‘watch.’

In this alleyway you’ll find a café that’s been in Seattle for a very long time. There’s a poem across from where I’m sitting, dated 10/10/1992, in which the writer calls this “a place to come together / A place to fall apart / And get lost in the pieces together…The Proudly Disconnected, Unaffiliated / Make dotted-line connections” here.

This alleyway will also lead you to the People’s Harm Reduction Reduction Alliance, “a peer-run organization that promotes the philosophy of harm reduction and safer drug use.”

When was the last time that the love for neighbor surprised you?

The Episcopal Church’s own #WayOfLove Advent prompt is in resonance today: “Take time to listen closely to someone you may not ordinarily take seriously, or who has a different perspective than you.”

This Advent, I hope to listen longer, look further & love better.

#Focus

Today’s #AdventWord is ‘focus,’ and The Episcopal Church’s #WayOfLove calendar recommends Luke 1:26-38, asking: what are you being called to say “yes” to today?

It’s a timely question; in my most recent experiences, I’ve felt that Episcopalians tend to be really good at saying “no” to things—no, we’re not bible literalists; no, we’re not dupes or bigots; no, we’re not telling you what to think; no, we’re not like those “other” Christians… This business can be both tedious and refreshing, depending on your spiritual journey.

But I wonder: how comfortable are we with wholeheartedly—and maybe even a little foolishly—saying “yes”?

I just left the Seattle DSA General Meeting & Organizing Fair. This group is messy. There’s factionalism, there’s bumbling, there’s confusion. But just from the conversations within earshot, I learned about a half-dozen opportunities to live out a good chunk of my baptismal covenant, if I were prepared—indeed, willing—to look closely and see them in those terms: to “persevere in resisting evil,” to “strive for justice and peace among all people,” to “respect the dignity of every human being.”

I’m not sure how many in my church would agree.

Today, like gentle Mary once meekly bowed, I want to say “yes” to being for something, with no hedging of bets, nor need for guarantees. A child was born and was named Emmanuel as an affirmation; I want to say yes to the mess of incarnation, this paradox of “being in the world but not of it,” and—as our prayer book puts it—I will, with God’s help.

#Night

Today’s #AdventWord is ‘night,’ and I’m at Woodland Park Zoo with Christine checking out the Wild Lights. Most of the animals are asleep, and I don’t blame them! It’s freezing out here. The flamingos very loudly told us to go home 🤨

#Light

Today’s #AdventWord is ‘light.’ You learn to appreciate light very quickly in northern latitudes; every extra hour, every “sun break”—an expression I also learned not long ago. Light becomes precious in ways that more Mediterranean and equatorial folx probably take for granted.

In my faith tradition, we talk about “Light from Light.” Others today are lighting a menorah. Still others find meaning in the exhortation to #BeTheLight, that sticker mantra we see all over Seattle. But in real darkness, the light is not a metaphor. Light is the difference between life and death.

In real darkness, light is also as dull as a lamppost, as pedestrian as a crosswalk, and as basic as two sticks rubbed together. Most of the time, to #BeTheLightInTheDarkness is to dissipate into the background. We depend on light because it makes other things possible.

Go ye light.

#Sprout

Today’s #AdventWord is ‘sprout.’ I immediately thought of that word when I saw the artwork in my first photo.

This was last night, during the Cascade Neighborhood Council’s “Heart of Seattle” art event. After I took the photo, the artist approached me, and told me that her name is B.

B is affiliated with Path With Art. She’s taken part in Pearl Jam’s #UnpackingHomelessnes poster exhibit, and has even been to the UK, where she took part in an ‘Art & Homelessness’ summit.

I loved learning about the Raku firing technique she uses, and how she sees that unpredictable process as a metaphor of life.

This is a small sampling of B’s work; she’s also made incredible paintings that weren’t on display last night. If you want to learn more & support The Art of B, reach out to her at bbeezz10 [at] yahoo [dot] com 🌱

#Alert

Today’s #AdventWord is ‘alert.’

The Anglican theologian and former Church of England Bishop of Durham, N. T. Wright, has this to say about the holiday season: “Christmas isn’t about an escape from the real world of politics and economics, of empires and taxes and bloodthirsty wars. It is about God addressing these problems at last from within, coming into our world—his world.”

As we near the end of the first week of Advent, let all who celebrate remember that this is more than a memorial—we’re not just marking the birth of a religious movement. Instead, we are meant to be nurturing a new world, still swaddled in a manger, yet growing day by day.

Shoutout to @theeppn, @emmrefugees, @episcopalrelief, @worldrelief, @luthworldrelief, @ignatiansolidarity, @poorpeoplescampaign, and all faith-based initiatives doing the Good News this season, and all year round.

#FollowTheStar ✨

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