In the first days of 2020, our newsfeeds were full: confrontations over a pipeline in western Canada, devastating fires in Australia, an earthquake in Puerto Rico, the death of 176 people whose airplane was shot down and speculations of a possible war in the Middle East.
With contentiousness and fracturing in the body of believers, and hostility and injustice all around, these are difficult days for church leaders, who are supposed to provide guidance for people struggling with the trials of the times while at the same time often wrestling with their own challenges.
It was hard to know this Christmas how to hear the familiar story. Every year I look forward to advent, to hearing about Mary and Joseph and the new baby, to reflect again on what this story means for me and my community -- and how I live my life differently because of it.
Sitting with the sadness. The third advent's theme was "Sadness Changes to Gladness." The part that is so hard to swallow, though, is that "changing to gladness" doesn't necessarily mean the sadness goes away. In fact, there are so many reasons to lament and be sad. Broken relationships, war, poverty, destruction of creation, unhealthy patterns of consumption, greed, and violence invade every aspect of our lives in one way or another.