This week we put our hope in political candidate. As a pastor, I spend a lot of time listening. I have listened and I have learned from those who find themselves afraid and in deep pain. And I have listened and leaned from those who found a reason to celebrate because they have been heard. I have listened to friends and family and colleagues and mentors on both sides of the aisle. And I’ve watched the distance between the two sides grow impossibly wide and the desire to understand the other all but disappear. This week we put our hope in a political candidate. This wasn’t the first time we’ve done this.
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Last Sunday was supposed to be a day of celebration for our community. We received a piano in memory of a member, and it would have been her 100th birthday. Her entire family came for the celebration, and I had the service all planned. I wrote the sermon early in the week. The cake was ordered. The decorations were hung.
And then two black men were killed by police officers.
And then five police officers were killed.
One week ago, we woke up to the news that terrorists had attacked Brussels, killing and injuring people just beginning their vacation, on the subway to work, just going about their every day lives. We can’t escape bad news.
We usually talk about Jesus’ birth in the most neat and tidy and sterile way. One minute Mary is pregnant and the next she is holding a clean, swaddled little baby, sound asleep and sucking on a pacifier. When we skip over the actual birth part, we end up missing the most important piece of the Christmas story.
Advent has seemed darker than usual this year. There have been a series of horrific events, instilling fear and robbing us of peace. Simultaneously, the political climate is increasingly hostile, and disciples of Jesus are divided and suspicious of one another.