Advent: Justice #EvergreenAdvent

Amos 5:23-24

Away with the noise of your songs!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!


I had a really hard time finding a photo for “Justice”. With the pressing and depressing scenes and events of the past couple of weeks, along with the guilt of white privilege weighing on my soul, I have been near to despair. And then I remembered that I’m not called to right all the wrongs. This is a small “something” that we at Bethany Presbyterian Church can do and have done. We created this garden for our neighborhood here in Tacoma, and we give the plots to anyone who asks for one. The only stipulation is that any excess food grown cannot be sold, but it must be given to Fish Food Bank. It’s a tiny thing we can do to begin to address the ills of poverty and hurt. It’s not everything, but it IS something.

Advent: Vision #EvergreenAdvent

Habakkuk 2:1-3

I will stand at my watch
    and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
    and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

The Lord’s Answer

 Then the Lord replied:

“Write down the revelation
    and make it plain on tablets
    so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
    it speaks of the end
    and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
    it will certainly come
    and will not delay.”


The vision contains a promise and the promise has been, is being, and will be fulfilled. Something is coming, like the rainbow after the rain.

Advent: Hope #EvergreenAdvent

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”


Photos of the beautiful flowers of summer and fall give hope of the coming days during this time of cold in the waning light.


At the Aquarium in NOLA

This photo is part of the Lenten Photo-A-Day Challenge.

Without the SHADOW, how would we appreciate the light?

It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly. — Madeleine L’Engle

The lectionary passage that spoke especially to me today was from Romans 5:3-5

3 …we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Advent One – Monday


Isaiah 1:11-17

This first chapter of Isaiah is really difficult to get close to for those of us who have tried to follow all the rules. This could so easily be ascribed to our world today.

There are many who insist that being anti-abortion is the primary calling of the church. They point to proof text upon proof text to show how Christians are required to be pro-Life.

There are others who want to draw the line at Gay Marriage, saying homosexuality is anathema to God, and calling all right-thinking people to shun the LGBT folks among us. Again, proof texts from the Bible are used to beat each other over the head.

And then there are those who read the writings of Paul and claim women have no place in the leadership of the church. Recently the vote by the Anglican Church to deny the possibility of women being elevated to Bishops struck another blow to gender equality.

In many parts of the world (yes, even in parts of the United States) race or national origin is still a deciding factor in eligibility for full acceptance and citizenship in the human community.

How are these examples that different from the requirements for burnt offerings and blood sacrifice that Isaiah is railing against?

Isaiah echoes Micah when he says

cease to do evil, 

    learn to do good;

seek justice,

     rescue the oppressed,

defend the orphan,

     plead for the widow.

This is the hope I see in this Advent text for healing the broken of the world through LOVE.

Expecting the Word – Advent One – Monday

My Advent series this year will follow the Words Matter Advent study from the National Council of Churches. Download the whole booklet if you’d like, and follow along with the writings for each day. I’d love to discuss them with you. Also, here is a link to the Advent readings from the Inclusive Bible. I prefer the more inclusive language here, than the NRSV texts used in the study booklet (be sure to read the note on page 6).

Isaiah 64:1-9.

The study today reminds me that Advent is a time of endings and a time of new beginnings. I hope and pray that it will be that way for Big Al and me. We are approaching the end of two years of liminal living – the decision made to move to our (hopefully) final location after a nomadic life of relocation every couple of years. We’ve been almost two years rattling around in our house with minimal possessions – not wanting to buy new “stuff” because it will just cost us money to move it to Tacoma. We’ve found out just how little “things” matter to us – although there is still some angst when I can’t host Thanksgiving dinner one more year because we don’t have a decent-sized table, or enough plates, or even enough chairs for folks to sit on. I feel like our life has already been “rent asunder” like the mountains in Isaiah, and we’re waiting in the rubble for the potter to put us back together.

I’ve also reached the end of my time on session at Preston Hollow. The final meeting is tonight, and all the out-going elders are supposed to say a little bit about what their time on session has meant to them. For me it was a time to grow outside the boundaries of the local church. I was able to attend Presbytery meetings, and through the three years, I got to vote on four initiatives from General Assembly, a new General Presbyter, and countless church plantings, church closings, new calls, mission opportunities, and all the busy-ness of this wonderful denomination of ours. I also was able to attend several conferences where I met and got to know some amazing people in the Emerging church. I met Bryan McLaren, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Margaret Aymer Oget, Carol Howard Merritt, Bryan Merritt, Phil and Stephanie Shephard, and many more who are “being church” in small, out-of-the-way places around the country – bringing love to the least, the last, and the lost. I’ve also been able to rub elbows, virtually, with many others including Cynthia Bolbach, and Bruce Reyes-Chow. My proudest accomplishment was to be involved in the founding of Presbyterian Women Interest Group on Facebook, which has grown in six months from six people with an idea to over 450 women connecting, studying, and generally working for the kingdom of God in cyber-space.

The hope that I see in these Advent texts is definitely for a reshaping of my life, the church, and the world.