More Thoughts on Advent 2 from 3 Preachers -Bringing In the “Already-but not yet”

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Good Shepherd Tuesday Ministry Core Group-Homeless No More And Helping Others

In my last blog I shared my homily on “Blossoming Out of a Tree Cut Down”.  Many of us, including those who are  homeless,like the Blossom from the cut off stump of Jesse, Jesus the Christ, sprout up, rise up, despite the treatment we have received. Advent is a time of sprouting into new life. For some as Pastor Reho says, it means moving away from our own dead center of “ME”. For others as Rev. Bingle says it means doing what they can do to serve others, to feed and clothe and encourage the homeless and others in trouble when the minimum wage is so low no one can live on it. May we also encourage those changes that bring new life to all, like raising the minimum wage to twice what it is now so people can live on it.

Here are two more preachers sharing the word for Advent 2. 

Rev. James Reho of The Lamb of God Lutheran Episcopal Church in Estero, Florida

“Koans are paradoxical questions that are meant to stop our ordinary ways of thinking so that our minds (and hearts) can be opened to something more.  Some famous koans include, “What was your original face before you were born?” and “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”  Sitting with such paradoxes can expand us.

This season of Advent, too, is a paradox.  On the one hand, it is a time of preparation and waiting; on the other, it is a call to awaken to God’s kin(g)dom which is already at hand, among us and within us (Luke 17:21).  Theologians often describe this reality using the paradoxical phrase “already-but-not-yet.”

The Advent paradox of “already-but-not-yet” captures, I think, how we often experience the Holy.  The more present we become to Presence here and now, the more we see new horizons unfolding into the future.  The more we experience union with God, the more we are called to continual transformation into God.  The more our Lamb of God community seeks and embodies God’s hopeful dreams for our world, the more we are called to faithful courage in furthering this “already-but-not-yet” kin(g)dom of God.

The more seriously we take the message of Advent, the more we become people of paradox.  What does this mean?  It means that we can imagine in a courageous way what our future will look like and risk making it happen, while awakening to the fact that we, already in the present, have everything we need to bring it about.  It means, too, that for God’s kin(g)dom to be more fully revealed, our own kingdoms have to move over: “what I want” sometimes needs to cede to “what best serves.”      Finally, it means that we learn to become suppler and less rigid through cultivating our inner prayer life and outer community life.

What are we waiting for?  We wait for That which is already here.

Whom are we waiting for?  We wait for Jesus Christ, who, here and now, is alive within us and among us.

What is the sound of one hand clapping?  That one I’ll leave to you to figure out🙂

See you in church,

James

Rev. Beverly Bingle, Roman Catholic Woman Priest in Toledo, Ohio

Last Wednesday, the temperature in Toledo was 60. This weekend the
high is 30. The forecast high for next Tuesday is 20. The Winter
Solstice—the darkest day of the year—is two weeks off. Bleak, frigid
days ahead.

Lucas County officials count over a thousand homeless people here. I
mentioned that statistic at Claver House this week, and Al, one of the
guests, estimated that there are two to three times that many because
they’re not all counted. Some live in cars. Some squat in
abandoned houses. Some go from couch to couch with family and
friends. A good number have “riverfront homes.” Some live under the
High-Level Bridge. Others under the Craig Bridge. Still others live
under the new Glass City Skyway.

A third of the homeless have a mental illness or an addiction. Some
of them are the “working poor,” not making enough money to pay minimal
expenses for food and housing. Many of them are unemployed. Many of
the women and children are fleeing from domestic violence. Some spend
their nights in one of the four homeless shelters—they’re the ones who
get counted. They walk or bike to soup kitchens and the public
library during the day while the shelters are closed. They look for
jobs without an address to put on the application, without a shower,
without clean clothes for an interview.

It’s bleak. Cold. Hard.

We gather here today, warm and safe, and hear scriptures that promise
a peaceful, happy world. We hear the Baptizer proclaim that God’s
reign is at hand. And we know that something’s wrong with this
picture. What were those words of scripture we just heard? Treat
poor people with fairness? No harm, no destruction on my holy
mountain?

Our Pope Francis describes the problem; he says: The great danger in
today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and
anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit
of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our
interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns,
there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.

John the Baptizer is more blunt about it; he shouts: You pack snakes!
Give some evidence that you mean to reform!

Glory be to God, our Holy Spirit Community can give evidence. We
consistently spend our time and our talent and our resources to, as
the Psalmist puts it, “rescue the poor when they cry out.”

Last week you brought canned goods and sweaters, cash and toys,
Christmas decorations and socks, cereal and lots of plastic bags and
containers… all donated by you for the hungry and the homeless in our
midst. During the week each of you ministers at home, at work, with
friends, among strangers. You’re at the Assumption Outreach Center,
Helping Hands of St. Louis, Hospice, Claver House, the St. Vincent de
Paul Society, Pax Christi, the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition, Call to
Action, to name just a few. You contribute, over and above what you
give for our Community’s efforts, to causes ranging from ISOH/Impact
disaster relief to the Padua Center’s tutoring program. In two weeks,
on the 22nd we’ll address another of our five potential focuses for
systemic change to serious problems in our world, this time looking at
the systems and institutions that contribute to addiction.

We can see the problems. We are already part of the solution, and we
are working towards doing even more.

So a shoot will sprout—a branch will blossom. In the darkness of
winter, in the darkness of our world, we can walk in the light of
hope.


Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Mass at 2086 Brookdale (Interfaith Chapel):
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Mass at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
www.holyspirittoledo.org

Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor,

As we celebrate Advent 2, the Sunday of Peace and Preparation let us pray for the grace to work for justice in order to pursue peace. Let us join John the Baptist in giving some evidence that we mean to change our hearts and lives to serve one another and the “least” among us this Advent season. 

Pastor Judy Lee,ARCWP

Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida

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