Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Thanksgiving and Advent Church

Hi all. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Advent.

First, a few announcements then a few stories:

This past Friday was Buy Nothing Day, when we join with others around the globe in creating a counter culture to the consumerist "Black Friday" that seeks to promote affluence, appearances, and the nation's perceived GNP at the expense of the real health of individuals and families and communities. Starting at 9 a.m. we held our Giveaway Day from the donation room of A Third Place and offer our space for people to bring items of their own to giveaway to others. Our donation room works to promote this culture shift every day but we are pleased to yoke it with the annual Buy Nothing Day movement. I get more than a little "prophetic" when I keep hearing how important corporate "profits" are to our future if those are dependent, as so many are pushing regardless of political affiliation, on increased consumer spending and easier debt and disposable marketentertainmentplace values and products.

Sunday join us at Church of the Restoration, just south of Pine on Greenwood, at 11 a.m. for worship where I will be preaching on Advent and a theology of presence in north Tulsa through the mission of our churches.
And keep Sunday, Dec. 14 at 11 a.m. in mind when I will be with the Metropolitan Community Church United of Tulsa near the Airport. See http://www.mcctulsa.org/Welcome.html.

WOW: Weekly on Wednesdays beginning this Advent, on Dec. 3:
7 a.m. Morning Prayer and Midweek Meditation and Breakfast, a short period of centering the soul.
11 a.m. Bible Chat with Ron
Noon Prayer and Meal
6 pm to 8 pm Vespers Meal, Conversation, Advent Communion

Dec. 3, 10, 17 our Advent study will focus on Shane Claiborne's book "Becoming the Answers to Our Prayers."

This Thanksgiving Day was a great demonstration of our incarnational way of being the church. It was a kind of parable of us. Many churches do wonderful things on and for Thanksgiving; the line at John 3;16 mission for free turkeys stretched down the block when I went by there the other day, and I heard many stories of churches giving out food so families could make their own meals; and I know some families who passed the word that those who needed a place to eat with others could come to where they were gathered. These are part of the "come to us" type of churches, and we need more like them. But we also need more like ours, a "be amongst others" church, a go to them and learn from them, dedicated above all to creating relationships, connections, community and not just providing a handout or a service. We ate our meal with about 30 others at A Third Place, and some brought something to share too, and helped others while they were here; our new stove donated by a member of the wider community and connected by a volunteer; one of our new volunteers prepared all the place settings so people wouldn't fill like they were going through a line, and also cleaned the children's room; and people who couldn't eat with us brought food and will be around to serve and share leftover meals during the Giveaway Day tomorrow; plates of food were made and taken to those homebound during visits. We learned stories from those we ate with, and got ideas for ways we could partner with them, like the women who showed up from the local horse rescue group. We had people who had never been to the community center before too, but who will be back. A new Turley Tradition was started with this meal.

The day before Thanksgiving a man who had hitchhiked from Washington found his way to the Center to seek help in using our computers to try to find a relative in the area; a thanksgiving reunion happened at the Center.

We began our season of Reverse Offering this past Wednesday during Vespers when we distributed money to be used as people can come up with ideas on how that money can seed change in people or communities. We will share our stories in January on the Wednesday near Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

This coming Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is our preparation period to focus ourselves on the coming of Christmas, the Incarnation, the spirit becoming flesh, becoming meaty, becoming vulnerable, when the Spirit of God became visible in the world through the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is a time when we enter into the story of how the divine spirit came not to the showy, the wealthy, the powerful, the resourceful, the institutional, not to any place and people where it would be expected by the world. Instead it came to a single poor young woman living in an unknown and unregarded part of the world under occupation by the world's mightiest power, when God switched sides, when it took on a human face, an earthy experience, one susceptible to all that we are susceptible to, even penultimately ending up on a cross. That is something worth following a star toward...It is something to use as a model for our lives and for our faith communities. This Advent let's contemplate how our churches and our lives are Advent-ures of an incarnational kind.