Author: Chad Hyatt
Reflection: v. 34, ‘giving each one a job to do’
Bet you never thought you would live through an apocalypse, did you? Welcome to 2020, y’all. From the perspective of the church calendar, Advent kicks off a new year. And it happens while we’re still trudging our way through the old. It’s as if God’s people are invited to become divinely out-of-synch. The realities that have come surging over the banks—a global pandemic, persisting racism, political polarization—won’t simply recede because the clock ticks midnight on New Year’s Eve. Things will only change because we choose to change them. And that’s God’s subversive invitation to us.
At a time when so many of our churches have chosen—for sound public health reasons—to close the doors on traditional worship, might we imagine worship more broadly? What if worship was a little more Isaiah 58—a down-to-earth practice where we empower and embody more just and inclusive communities that could transcend the divisions that beset us? That would mean literally making room for those who cannot shelter-in-place because they have no place to shelter. It would mean creatively organizing our congregations to share food, clothing, running water, and rental assistance—things we should have already been doing, if we’re honest. Now is the time to make a new time for our world. Disruption of old patterns can embolden new ways of being together. But we can’t limit our creative vision to fashioning online content.
The Advent Event itself shows us the way: God comes to us as a poor and homeless child who quickly becomes a refugee on the run with his parents. Is this not where we can still find God at work? I believe with everything within me it is. God is always to be found, graciously at work on the margins, close to suffering, in the broken places. We must creatively reimagine church as a liberating, grassroots community that makes sharing our bread with our hungry neighbors as essential to true and vital worship as sharing the bread of the Eucharist with one another. A new Advent is upon us. Let us fearlessly embrace it.
Prayer God of Advent, help us to see in our troubled times that now is always your liberating time. May our broken status-quo lead us to reorder our worship as justice for our neighbors.