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The Rev. Leslie Houseworth-Fields
Having grown up in a less liturgical church context, I did not observe Advent. For me, Christmas started the evening of Thanksgiving. That is, after all, the day of my hometown’s annual lighting of the Christmas tree. Nowadays, it seems like the Christmas season begins even earlier. This year I literally saw a Christmas commercial the evening of Halloween. Trick or treat? Check. Now we’re off to the Christmas races. Onto the track of consumerism we go, purchasing items we really don’t need for people that we may or may not even like. For many of us, the weeks leading up to Christmas are a whirlwind of hanging decorations, purchasing presents, attending parties, and eating way too much food.
Into this chaos, John the Baptist cries from Jordan’s bank: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2 NRSV). Repent? Theologian G. Sujin Pak says “The repentance called for is communal, national, economical, political. The time is at hand, says John, when the lofty and high shall be made low, when the corrupt and crooked practices will be made straight, when the violent and rough ways of the world will be rebuked into the smooth ways of peace.”
Those darn prophetic voices. Always cutting across what otherwise would have been a good time. Or was it really? Perhaps we need prophetic voices to save us from ourselves; to release us from the chaos and pressure that our current culture puts on this season; to remind us that this season isn’t about the hustle and bustle, checklists, and to-do’s. We need prophetic voices to remind us that God is on the way, and we must get ready.
This Advent season, let us take the time to reassess our core values, reimagine ways we can be gifts to the world, and reignite our commitment to love God and our neighbors.
Prayer: Holy one, open our ears that we may hear your word, and may our lives be a prophetic witness to your kingdom in the world. Amen.