Saturday, December 04, 2010

Advent Lives of Ordinary Radicals: A Communion homily you can take with you this week

For second Sunday of Advent, peace Sunday, at 11 am worship gathering at A Third Place, 6514 N. Peoria Ave. We gather and we scatter and we gather again for the spiritual restoration so we can scatter again and be the church apart as we are together.

Advent Lives: Communion homily with people to remember each day of Advent. We will do these for all the days of Advent this year.

Last week, the first Sunday of Advent, we discussed where our lives are located, part of the Advent theme that God locates or takes up residence with the suffering, and so should we to be in the presence of God most fully. The communion meal is one of the ways that week in and week out we remind ourselves of the need to do this and that it can come through sharing our meals with one another and with those in need, that we have enough for our own needs and so can focus on those of others be they hungry, sick, oppressed, in jail.

This Sunday's focus picks up that theme and says what lives do we lift up as our models and examples during this season? We know so much of our consumer society wants us to follow some perfect fake person that doesn't to buy what they want, look like what they want, have perfectly obedient and happy children, and they can make us that way if we will just buy what they are sending. Or our celebrity culture wants us to spend time following the ins and outs and ups and downs of those who have become famous or infamous. But God always dwelled with nobodies, at least nobodies in the eyes of those in power, with those who are seen as numbers and statistics, who learn that in God they are always somebody, always full of worth and potential. So, what lives will we follow this season, as the Magi followed the star to Bethlehem in Matthew's Christmas story? Or another way to put it is who will sit with us at our welcome table in these days ahead?

In the new book Common Prayer: a liturgy for ordinary radicals, Shane Claiborne and others add in little stories about ordinary people across the ages doing extraordinary things, often at great cost to themselves. Each day there is someone to think about and remember, especially on the days of their deaths. In the liturgies for this past week and coming week, the lives for us to eat with this week have included:

For Nov. 29, Dorothy Day who died on Nov. 29, 1980....radical socialist journalist unwed mother who became a Christian and started the Catholic Social Worker movement and houses of hospitality with the poor, creating “a new society within the shell of the old, a new monasticism combining piety and practice, charity and justice.

For Nov. 30 Wendell Berry, still alive as poet and farmer and community activist, was quoted for his words: "Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. It asks us to notice that while we rest, the world continues without our help. It invites us to delight in the world's beauty and abundance."

For Dec. 1, Charles de Foucauld who died on that day in 1916. “While working in the North African desert after a dishonorable discharge from military service, he was impressed by the piety of Muslims and experienced a dramatic recovery of his Christian faith. He spent a number of years in a Trappist monastery before hearing the call to a new monasticism among the working poor. “I no longer want a monastery which is too secure,” he wrote. “I want a small monastery, like the house of a poor workman who is not sure if tomorrow he will find work and bread, who with all his being shares the suffering of the world.” Though Foucauld died in solitude, the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus, inspired by his life and witness, have started communities of service among the poor and outcast around the world.

On Dec. 2, 1980, Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan were murdered by officers of the Salvadoran military. Missionaries serving among the poor during El Salvador's civil war, these women knew, as Ita Ford said the night before she died, that "one who is committed to the poor must risk the same fate as the poor." Their deaths affected the North American church deeply, galvanizing opposition to US support for the Salvadoran government's repression of its people. Ita Ford wrote: "The reasons why so many people are being killed are quite complicated, yet there are some clear, simple strands.One is that people have found a meaning to live, to sacrifice, struggle, and even die. And whether their life spans sixteen years, sixty, or ninety, for them their life has had a purpose. In many ways, they are fortunate people."

For Dec. 3, Justin Martyr, an early follower of Jesus who was beheaded by Rome, is quoted: "He called Abraham and commanded him to go out from the country where he was living. With this call he has roused us all, and now we have renounced all the things the world offers, even unto death."

For Dec. 4, they quote the Roman emperor Julian who said, about the divine nobodies, "The godless Galileans feed our poor in addition to their own."

For Dec. 5, they quote Sojourner Truth, 19th century black woman and abolitionist, who said, "I'm not going to die, honey. I'm going home like a shooting star."

For this coming week, Dec. 6, is St.Nicholas day, for he died on this day in 346...when his parents died he gave all his possessions to the poor. While serving as bishop he heard of three girls who were going to be sold into slavery by their father. Moved to use the church's wealth to ransom the lives of these little ones, he tossed three bags of gold through the family's window....recall him as St. Nick, and also the 1.2 million children trafficked each year in the global sex trade today.

Dec. 7 lifts up Ambrose of Milan, from fourth century who gave up his possessions, became bishop, began strict schedule of daily prayer and study of scripture. he had been a governor but gave up to serve the church, spoke truth to power, and said, "the emperor is in the church, not over it."

Dec. 8 quotes Jean Vanier, founder of communities, who said "To love someone is not first of all to do things for them, but to reveal to them their beauty and value, to say to them through our attitude: ' You are beautiful. You are important. I trust you. You can trust yourself." We all know well that we can do thing for others and in the process crush them, making them feel that they are incapable of doing things by themselves. To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them."

Dec. 9 was the birthday of Martin de Porres in 1579, a Dominican brother who is often celebrated by mixed race people and those committed to ending racism and segregation. He was born in Lima, Peru, the son of a Spanish nobleman and a former slave from Panama. Having grown up familiar with poverty and prejudice, he became a passionate advocate for those on the margins, establishing an orphanage and hospital for children, and becoming well known for his compassion. Martin is often depicted with a broom because he considered all work to be sacred and was committed to service and sacrifice.

Dec. 10 celebrates the contemporary monk and author and activist Thomas Merton who died on this day in 1968. He gave up a life of pleasure for a life of silence and prayer as a Trappist monk. His own writings for peace and nonviolence were censored by his own order. He was an influence for an engaged comtemplative spiritual life, of action and prayer. He prepared the way for a new monasticism. He wrote: "The monk does not come to the monastery to get something which the ordinary Christian cannot have. On the contrary he comes there in order to realize and to appreciate all that any good Christian already has. He comes to live his Christian life, and thus to appreciate to the full his heritage as a son of God. He comes in order that he might see and understand that he already possesses everything."

And, Dec. 11, we remember the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador on that day in 1980 when US trained soldiers killed up to 1000 men, women and children in the largest massacre in Latin American history. The inscription on a memorial in the town square reads: "They did not die, they are with us, with you, and with all humanity."

In Advent, when we are journeying with a pregnant, unmarried young woman through occupied land where the Roman military could do anything it wanted to the most vulnerable, we are dwelling and waiting for the new life to be born into the world. But at the same time Advent calls us to remember the world of much violence and death and injustice that new life comes into, and in our preparation for Christmas we should do all we can to prepare our world as a place of more peace and more joy and more hope and more love for those being born. In doing so we will become born again in the ways it most counts.

Take these lives with you this week.

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