In the soft glow of Thanksgiving’s warmth, our hearts resonate with the echoes of gratitude and generosity. We’ve woven threads of love into the tapestry of community, creating a vibrant mosaic of shared blessings. Yet, as the autumn leaves surrender to the inevitable chill, we find ourselves standing at the threshold of a new season — Advent.
Yesterday, while many of us were celebrating a day of Thanksgiving, some of our Native neighbors marked the occasion as a “Day of Mourning.” This practice and the accompanying solemn commemorations serve as a way to to honor Native ancestors and their stories, while fostering greater awareness and understanding among the public about the destructive history of the white Europeans that colonized the lands which were their homes.
Yesterday, I shared the story of my friend and colleague Steve Sylvester, whose son died in a tragic accident earlier this year and for whom our congregation had hosted a funeral . As Steve reflected on the past few months, he was able to recognize that, all thing considered, he was doing ok. As much as this kind of grief could have the capacity to cripple anyone, Steve was surprised by how he has been able to keep going. And he credits his faith as the place from which he’s drawn whatever strength he’s needed to get through each new day. Steve said, “I’m thankful that I believed before I had to.”
I’ve spent my fair share of time in vineyards and wineries; each one is different. In the big business of winemaking, there are so many beautiful facilities, funded by big-monied interests eager to promote a high value experience with their gleaming tasting rooms and temples to the finer things in life. But I have always preferred visiting the wineries willing to show an altogether different side of winemaking, the side that is messy with dirt and leaves and spilled grape juice.
God’s vision for the world, over and over in scripture, is linked to the thriving of the generations that follow. And the capacity of this flourishing is rooted in their care and concern for the youngest. This is something that our evangelist Mark helps Jesus to underscore as he is teaching his disciples. These curious children that are coming close to Jesus, need to be centered not shushed or shunned. “The kingdom that God is creating belongs to them!” teaches Jesus. At once, the disciples and we know exactly where God’s imagined future will be planted.
Mark Glaeser & Donna Hanna led the music ministry of Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte, North Carolina when their pastor asked them to write a hymn for an upcoming capital campaign. Like the practice of many campaigns, a theme was taken from a relevant piece of scripture. The campaign at Christ Lutheran that year would rely on the New Testament letter to the Colossians.