Advent Reflection / ELCA Participants Share Reflections from COP26
“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” -Luke 1: 78-79
Take Action: Write a Christmas Card to your Legislators
ELCA participants at COP26 share their experiences
ELCA World Hunger presents “Hunger and Poverty by the Numbers”
JRLC Housing webinars
Advent Reflection by Rachel Wyffels, Hunger Advocacy Fellow
I think it’s safe to say that we are all coming into this season of hope and preparation with weariness this year. I know that I certainly am. Today, I want to focus on a small segment of the Christmas story and then draw it back to what it means for us in our season of hope and preparation amid exhaustion.
This segment of the Christmas story comes from the scene of the shepherds and the angels in Luke chapter 2. As we know well, the shepherds were keeping watch when an angel stood before them and they were terrified. As if they were not frightened enough, the gospel continues, “And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host” (2.13).
For most of my life, I have glossed over this part of the story. But I had the opportunity to slow down and think about this more closely when I took Greek a few years ago. My professor had us sight read through this chapter and we were doing well up until we stopped here. We could understand the overall meaning of the sentence well enough, but there was this strange word that none of us knew, “exaiphnes” (ἐξαίφνης). It looked like part of a sentence connector, but it wasn’t one of the standard ones that we knew well or even a connector of moderate frequency.
Frustrated, we turned to our mini dictionary in the back for help. It read, “exaiphnes: suddenly, unexpectedly.” “Suddenly” is not a common word or even a common adverb in Greek, which is why I have grown to love it here. If the sentence read like the others around it, it would read, “And there was with the angel a multitude.” But the author makes a special point to tell us how this happened: not immediately like the restoration of Zachariah’s sight, not “in those days, it happened that” as occurs so often in the gospels, but “suddenly.”
One question that I invite you to reflect on is where “suddenly” has shown up in your life. When in your life have you suddenly caught a glimpse of the kingdom of God? Such an experience could be with a person, either someone you have known for a long time or a stranger on the street. It could be in a place like your home or like a wild place. Or it could come from an idea or community or movement. Whatever your “suddenly” moment is, I invite you to return to it three times today. Take even a small amount of time and allow it to fill you. The intention isn’t to usher in more of those moments as if they make us holier, but rather to open us as part of this season of expectation. It is a hard thing to be open at this time. The realities of the climate crisis, poverty and hunger, and white nationalism seem like the only reality and expectation for our future. Reflecting on “suddenly” moments doesn’t seek to create hope that we don’t feel. But it does allow us to be open to the greatness of God breaking into our world at times we don’t expect. While we are watching the sheep by night, having hoped and waited for the promise for so long, God unveils again the radical reality of the kingdom that we are called to realize on this earth.
In conclusion, I invite you to pray:
Gracious God, We come to this season of hope and expectation with heaviness and exhaustion in our hearts. It feels like the forces of hate and systemic injustice are too strong to overturn. Renew in us the suddenness and majesty of your kingdom throughout this season, that we might feel your enduring promises anew and be strengthened to bring about Jesus’s mission of service and justice in our world.
Write a Christmas Card to your Legislators!
Lutheran Advocacy-Minnesota encourages you to write a Christmas card to your state legislators and members of Congress! Writing a Christmas card gives legislators a face to issues that we care about as Lutherans and shows how much their constituents want action. In your card, consider including an encouragement for action on hunger, poverty, and care of creation as well as a commitment to pray for them. As always, include where you are from so that they know that you are a constituent and thank them for their leadership.
You can see who represents you and find their contact information here
ELCA Participants Report on COP26
Both the ELCA and the Lutheran World Federation had delegations at the International UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.
We invite you to join us for a webinar hosted by ELCA Advocacy on Tuesday, December 7th from 11am-12:15pm CST to hear our ELCA participants share their experiences and hopes. The webinar is titled “Now Not Later: Lutheran Young Adults Look at COP26,” and will emphasize young adult and Indigenous voices. It will consist of a 45 minute presentation of experience followed by 30 minutes for Q&A. We encourage you to join us in hearing these experiences and thinking about how the ELCA can respond to the climate crisis and care for creation. You can register for the event here
ELCA Hunger Webinar Series (December—Hunger and Poverty by the Numbers): Our ELCA World Hunger colleagues are producing a “Hunger at the Crossroads,” webinar series. Understanding hunger – and working to end it – means seeing the many ways hunger and poverty intersect with so many other issues, including climate change, food production, access to housing, racial justice, gender justice and more.
When: Thursday, December 9th
What time: 6 pm CST
Where: You can register for the online event here
The recordings of previous webinars are available here
Housing Webinars: Our partner, the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC), is hosting a series of five webinars on topics related to affordable housing in Minnesota. Both those new to the issues and experienced housing advocates are welcome. The topic of the January webinar is “Special Challenges and Opportunities for Inclusion.”
When: The first Thursday of the month from October through February (January 6, February 3)
What Time: 6:30-7:30 pm
Where: If you registered for previous webinars, you should receive an updated Zoom invitation via email automatically. If you are new to the webinars, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for the zoom link.
Previous webinars are available here
Feel free to reach out with questions or comments!
Tammy and Rachel