Welcome to #ccdaAdvent.
In the midst of darkness, oppression, and marginalization, Christ entered the scene of the first Advent and paved the way for our communal wellbeing. This Advent season, we invite you to consider the implications of Christ’s coming for our communities. What lessons may we draw from their context?
We are excited to partner with PAX and share with you their devotional, “Waiting with Imagination: An Advent Resource for Contemplative Activists.” Each devotional will include a reflection, breath prayer, art, and worship. We pray that the reflections and prayers within these Advent devotionals bring renewed inspiration, anticipation, and hope in the Kingdom of God that has come and is to come. Amen.
But you, beloved, must remember the words previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, for they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.” It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on some who are wavering; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.
Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
The Book of Jude reminds us of the apostles’ warnings about how this age will end, and how those who are ungodly and devoid of the Spirit will act. This reminder is not to help us spot “worldly people”; rather, Jude wants those of us who are followers of the Way to live differently.
Those who are “devoid of the Spirit,” Jude tells us, often cause division. In contrast, we should be people who pursue unity. We see this call throughout the New Testament, especially pertaining to those within the household of faith. In John 17, Jesus says that our unity is our witness to the world.
We live in an age in which false unity is often championed. Talking about social injustice, we’re told, causes division. But refusing to address the things that divide us is not unity. It is maintaining a false peace.
Jesus called us to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers. Peacemaking assumes peace is not present; therefore, peace must be made. Peacekeeping, on the other hand, assumes a pre-existing peace that only needs to be maintained. In a broken world, peace must be made, not kept.
True peace is the presence of harmony that allows all people to flourish and thrive. Ignoring centuries of injustice will not make hostility and conflict go away. There must be an active pursuit of transformation.
Advent reminds us that God did not ignore the things that divided God and humanity. The incarnation demonstrates to us that God directly addressed the cause of division in order to make peace. The peace of the kingdom demanded the suffering of the cross. Today, peace asks that we walk the path of self-giving love to break the cycles of hatred, violence, and oppression.
This Advent season, may we be formed into people who “pursue what makes for peace” (Rom. 14:19), instead of seeking to maintain divisions or false unity.
Praying While Cooking
The holiday season often comes with our favorite baked goods: breads, cookies, pies, cobblers, and many other sweet and wonderful things! Take a moment and choose a favorite recipe for a baked good or dish that brings you joy and comfort. Write down every ingredient on one side of a sheet of paper. Now think of the people in your life who need to experience God’s peace. Write one name next to each ingredient.
For example, if you’re making sugar cookies, you can write down:
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 ½ cups white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Next to each ingredient, write the name of someone you know who needs to experience God’s peace.
Now begin cooking or baking as a prayer. When you add each ingredient, say the name of the person and offer a prayer to God for them. Once everything is added, offer a final prayer or sing a song over the batter or dish.
When your food is ready, thank God for his peace before you take your first bite. If you have any left over, perhaps share some with the people you prayed over.
By Cole Arthur Riley
To be a Christian is to commit yourself to protecting the dignity of each person and piece of creation. Violence does not protect humanity, it demeans it. We will not make death from death.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
God of the Garden, We thank you for being a Maker who grounds all of creation in sacred shalom. We thank you that our origin is one of harmony; each plant, star, and human woven together in cosmic dignity. As we contend with a world that has fallen out of balance — a world tormented by greed, injustice, death, and decay — would you ground us again in our holy beginnings? Make us people of deep mutuality, believing in our interconnectedness with every created thing. Remind us that even in the face of evil, our dignity is magnified as we realize the dignity of another. And as we move toward justice and liberation, may we look at tools of death with new imaginations, that we would become like You — capable of beholding the dust, and raising up beauty.
We will not be held by hatred.
God, let us make life from death.
Originally published in StoryArc 04: Nonviolence, © 2021 by PAX. To read more, visit madeforpax.org/nonviolence.
Waiting with Imagination
PAX is a faith-based organization that inspires the church to embody the peace and justice of Jesus through contemplative formation.
Learn more at www.madeforpax.org or follow them on social media @madeforpax.