I took the long way home last night.
So I could stop along the dirt road
And stand for a moment
And look out across the field.
There stood a solitary evergreen
Adorned for the season in white lights.
Surrounded by the night.
Fires surround Los Angeles. And, three months after Hurricane Maria much of Puerto Rico is still without power and water. And, while they are no longer in the news I am sure communities in Texas and in Florida continue the struggle to rebuild after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. And, families down the street from where I live are still hungry and wondering if they will have enough food for their family. And, it is still Advent.
In announcing his pending resignation from the Senate, Al Franken commented on the irony of his pressured resignation and the fact we still have a President who has been accused of and admitted to sexual abuse. And that a self-professed Christian in Alabama who has been accused of abusing teenage girls and yet who continues to have the backing of his party, and whose supporters dismiss the charges of abuse and a concern for personal morality by saying what they are engaged in is a war is still running for the Senate. And, it is still Advent.
DACA students begin to take their finals as they complete another semester of college holding onto dreams which, as they study, hang by a thread. For most they have known no other home than the one they will return to in another week. What will happen next? They wonder. What will happen to their families? And, it is still Advent.
China issues instructions to its citizens who live along their border with North Korea about how to survive a nuclear explosion. Kim Jong-un issues a statement saying war on the Korean Peninsula is inevitable. President Trump continues to taunt with tweets. And, it is still Advent.
Terrorist strike and terror still kills.
Just as it did so long ago in Bethlehem.
And, here I sit.
Slogging through, sometimes buried in, the headlines in the news.
And in the fear.
And in the need.
And in the anxiousness.
And in the hate.
One of the consistent refrains in the Biblical texts which we read this time of year is “Fear not.” Two words said over and over again.
To the shepherds.
To you and me.
That doesn’t mean the reason for the fear goes away.
Caesar still rules.
Brute force still is used.
People still flee for their lives and become refugees.
The neighbor down the street is still hungry.
And feeling the knot in my stomach.
I don’t know how not to be afraid.
But it is still Advent.
Believing what I do
I will do my best to hold onto those two words.
If I did what Matt Lauer did I would lose my job.
If I did what Al Franken did I would lose my job.
If I did what Bill O’Reilly did I would lose my job.
If I did what Roy Moore did I would lose my job.
If I did what Harvey Weinstein did I would lose my job.
If I did what Kevin Spacey did I would lose my job.
If I did what Charlie Rose did I would lose my job.
If I did what Louis CK did I would lose my job.
If I did what John Conyers did I would lose my job.
If I did what Bill Clinton did I would lose my job.*
If I did what Donald Trump I would lose my job.*
And, you would too.
They violated women and girls.
They abused our trust.
They misused their power.
Politically I agree with some of these men.
Others I disagree with.
But, there is no defending or excusing what they did.
If you do, you tacitly condone their behavior.
Whether I agree or disagree with them I think they all should lose their jobs.
*Note: On the Sunday morning after the news broke about what Bill Clinton had done after my regular Sunday morning sermon I said if I had done what he had done I would lose my job. I said the same thing about Donald Trump on the Sunday morning after he was elected.
Today was a pretty crappy day.
Before I could even walk in the door of the church, our custodian met me on the sidewalk to tell me there was no heat in classrooms used by a daycare center. So an hour later, after calls to the company that installed the heating system several years ago to being told to call the oil company who came to say it was a pump and not the boiler to a second time calling the company which installed the system, there was still no heat and my mood had spiraled to a place where I could not call it back. All this on top of the fatigue an introvert experiences on the day after the First Sunday in Advent.
Oh, and its Advent.
I almost forgot.
And, besides all the details of a normal week, there is the luncheon for the seniors in the community which is being planned and the special program by the choir this Sunday and the 4th Sunday in Advent being on Christmas Eve and Christmas eve bulletins to finish because they all need to be printed well in advance of Christmas Eve. And, that bulletin for the Sunday after Christmas. It also needs to be done soon because the rest of the staff is gone the week between Christmas and New Years. And, all that doesn’t even include time with family or parents whose health is failing and a friend who is dying and the craziness of the national news.
Oh, and its Advent.
I almost forgot.
But, it is Advent.
And, it was a crappy day.
Which, I know, is nothing compared to what many lived with or through today. And, even if I don’t feel it or know it or see it tThe promise is that God comes. After all, it is Advent.
Advent, the four Sundays which precede Christmas, officially begins this coming Sunday. It is late this year. Often it begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving. One of our Advent/Christmas traditions is to place candles (electric) in the upstairs windows of our house and in the copula/widows watch on the top of our house. In the historic Village in which we live, the simple candles in the windows of a 150+ year old house looks beautiful. This year I couldn’t wait for this coming Sunday. So yesterday afternoon I pulled down the stairs that lead to the attic and the copula and placed my candles in those highest windows. I will add the other candles this evening. A simple, single light in each window.
Maybe that is the best I can do.
Maybe that is what I am to do.
Place a simple candle in the window of my life.
I cannot completely undo the darkness which seems to press in from all sides.
The “big” darkness.
The myth of redemptive violence.
Or, the more subtle darkness.
I deserve it.
But to find a way each day to add a simple light to whatever window I have or that my life might be.
I can do that.