Thursday, December 21, 2006

True Advent

My wife Karen was dismayed, almost distraught, when she discovered that all of the shelters and homeless-service providers were going to close all day on Christmas Eve, which happened to fall on a Sunday this year.

The shelters, of course, were giving their employees a well-deserved day off. But this meant that many homeless clients (who go to these shelters for food on Sundays) would have to go hungry for much of the day. This was not right, especially on Christmas Eve.
The homeless also need to know that someone cares about them on this special day, said Karen.

"There are many reasons a person may become homeless, and most are occasions of brokenness..." Karen said in Observations of a Wounded Healer, an article she wrote for the January-March 2007 issue of Radical Grace (published by the Center for Action and Contemplation).

So Karen called on a group of friends and some colleagues who serve the homeless to try to put together a couple of opportunities to distribute sandwiches. But the effort snowballed into more than just a sandwich-distribution opportunity. Many people from all walks of life stepped up to help.
Not only were sandwiches passed out at 7:30 a.m. There were burritos at 11:00 a.m., and a buffet at local small church from noon to 5:00 p.m., all bridging to a regularly scheduled meal at 5:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve at another meal site.

One cannot help but draw parallels to the account of the multiplication of the fish and loaves in all four of the Gospels (
Luke 9:12-17, Mark 8:1-10, John 6:1-15, Matthew 15:32-39).

On that note, I would like to share this Advent prayer, which Liz Mosbo VerHage posted on her blog, Living Theology. Liz was recently one of The ONE Campaign organizers for Bread for the World. The prayer was written for First Convenant Church, Seattle, WA, on December 5, 2006.

An Advent Prayer
In this Advent Season, as we practice waiting for the birth of our Savior, may we remember:
- to wait for
God to do the leading, equipping, and calling of each of us to a lifestyle shaped by hospitality, compassion, mercy, and justice;
- to practice
hospitality among our own church family, and within our weariness or awkwardness to reach out to the other;
- to show
compassion to each other, and within broken and hurting families to be especially gracious and help carry each other’s burdens during the holiday season;
- to show works of
mercy to our urban community, through our presence and our prayers, through a softening of our hearts and active ministries;
- to pray for
justice in the world, remembering and grieving along with those suffering from violence, hunger, illness, poverty, racism, and despair around the globe;
- to respond to God’s
promises in gratitude, reflection, and action, so that when we are called, when we are gifted, we join in praising God’s work and walking along the way with God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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