Tag Archives: Advent

ADVENT POEM by Carina Schiltz, Final Year MDiv Student

Written on internship in Milwaukee, 2014.
“Here am I, the servant of the Lord”
The words echo in the huge sanctuary
On a Thursday at noon.
It is food pantry day.
Up front sits the man who
Does not speak in full sentences,
Behind him sits the proud mother,
To the side, a man new to the neighborhood,
And back to the left, the Italian who always says,
“BE-A MY GUEST!” and flings his arms wide open
When he says it. Many filter in late to hear
The story.
Mary, the unsuspecting,
Has just learned she is to have a baby.
And not just any baby, but the baby
Who will change
Everything.
“Who wants to change the world?”
Every person raises their hands,
Even the child sitting with his mother,
Who later gives the pastor a high-five
During the peace.
“How will you do it?

How can we do it?

How do we bring hope

To a broken world?”

Mary, who is
Perplexed by the greeting:
“The Lord is with you”
Thinks “wait…me? I’m not
Special. I am not favored…how
Can you mean me? How can this be?
Bear the child whose kingdom will
Have no end?”
In the gathered congregation,
Leaning forward expectantly,
One woman looks at the preacher,
Who asks,
“Has anyone ever told you that
They believed in you?”
The young, slim woman shakes her head
Almost imperceptibly.
No one
Believes
In
Me.
“But how did Mary do it? How did she have
The courage to say, “Here am I. . .Let it be with me
According to your word” ?’
How can we change the world? How can someone
Like me
Possibly bear
Any hope
In this desperate
Painful
Violent
Place?
But you are the one.
“How can this be, since I am still—”
Alone.
Depressed.
Grieving.
Old.
Young.
Tired.
Hungry.
How can this be?
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you
And the power of the Most High will
Overshadow you”.
You, favored one, have been given gifts in order to bear
The Christ child
Into this terrible mess. For the Lord is with you.
You are the one who will bring Christ
To the world. And you will be strengthened
By him.
After the peace was shared
And the bread was broken,
The congregation departed to receive their
Groceries.
The young woman who had shaken
Her head when asked “has anyone ever
Told you they believed in you?”
Was gathering up her things.
Slowly, the pastor approaches her, scared, but
The words come out anyway.
“I saw you shake your head during the message,
That no one has ever said they believe in you.
I want you to know that I believe in you.
The Holy Spirit is with you.”
The woman looks at me,
And replying without words,
opens her arms wide.
Image

ADVENT SKY by Claire Theresa Ackley, 2nd Year MDiv Student

Advent Sky CTA

A MICRO-MANAGER FINDS FREEDOM IN ADVENT by Alexandra Hjerpe, 2nd Year MDiv Student

If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have picked a place that smelled like donkey—
but then again, God chooses to make beautiful things
out of stuff like dust, and wet nose-breath.

Personally, I like to imagine that there were velvet-nosed cattle, lowing a lullaby;
Stars dazzling a midnight-blue sky;
a sleeping, baby, white guy.

But, thankfully!, God is bigger, and better, and bolder, beyond anything
That I can comprehend with my own particular culture, and image, and mind.
God has a way of illuminating what I see as the stagnant, smelly, unwanted places—
and turning them into pools of healing and rivers of life:
into leaves for the healing of the nations.

With God’s mud on my eyes, I am allowed the clarity see created things as they always were meant to be seen— and not what I just couldn’t see them as, before.

Maybe it did involve rough blankets, and callous hands, and flies buzzing around and landing on a blanket mid-swaddle. But, all of it’s beautiful—
in the context of God.

Hope has been born. And now,
All of creation will be held together.

What could be more worthy, more beautiful, more perfectly perfect than that?

This, overwhelmingly, is God’s way: it is a springing forth, a pouring out, a blazing into new life.
it sweeps away the cobwebs and danglies of the old, dead soul, and cries, “Light em’ up!”
as green bursts from the earth in a sweaty tangle of love.

Can you imagine how fresh, and how free,
the soul was on that night God when came in person—
all straw, and placenta, and dust from here to Bethlehem?

ADVENT, A CYNIC PSALM  by Alexandra Hjerpe, 2nd Year MDiv Student

Hope is not a posture with which I am familiar; or maybe, even, comfortable.
And yet, I cannot forget the call that comes to me, commandingly:
“Listen! You shall be more than this.”

This! What, this human life—this human death! that spasms with violence, and pain—
That cracks with gunshots upon school children—
That refuses to take in drowning refugees—
That plunges my faith into darkness?

God.
The weight of the world is pounding in my ears:
My heart races from a mortality
that shall never be outrun.

And yet.
And yet. You promise me: “It shall be more than this.”

It will involve, as some tell it, thundering clouds—which birth golden fruit!—that pour out juices and leaves for the healing of the nations.

It will look something like, as I have heard, radiant beams of light—driving out death!—which banish every shadow of despair from our hearts.

It will taste, as I have read it, cool and sweet—a fountain of the purest water, gushing down from the rock that is your cornerstone—removing the tang of grief, forever.

It will feel, as I have known it, like velvet cattle and bristling hay—the bed of a god, among us, wrapped up in a manger.

ADVENT: COME, LORD JESUS by Aleese Baldwin, Final Year MDiv Student

As families gather around meal tables, I’ve often heard a common meal prayer recited from memory: “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed.” But when was the last time that we actually stopped to think about just what we are asking God in this little prayer before our meal?  “Come, Lord Jesus”? Are we really asking, really ready, and really open to Jesus sitting down at our tables with us? Are we really asking, really ready, and really open to Jesus coming into the messiness of the world?  “Come, Lord Jesus”? Here? Now? Really?

Looking around the world it isn’t hard to spot instances of injustice, suffering, corruption, pain and fear. Indeed some days, we – along with all those who suffer – can only manage to cry out to God, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)  And yet it is in the midst of this reality that we continue to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus”? Do we really believe that God has anything to do with this world anymore?  Based on what hope or promise do we have to boldly ask God to come to us?

As December begins, the church shifts in its liturgical cycle to the season of Advent: a season of waiting, of watching, of longing.  Last year, while serving an internship at both St. Luke’s Hospital and St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids, IA, I found myself in this season of Advent throughout the year.  I found myself sitting, waiting and longing with…

a teenager admitted for the fourth time to an inpatient behavioral health unit after attempting suicide with no outside help or support,
a husband of a patient in the Critical Care Unit who held his now deceased wife
with all that he had left in him,
and parents as they held their stillborn twins in their arms.

As a committed theologian of the cross, I wanted so desperately to proclaim the good news that God was present with them even in the midst of their pain. And to some extent I believe that I did. And yet at the same time, I could not help but wait, watch, and long with each of these groups of people for the hope of new life…a hope of a reality free from pain, suffering and injustice.  As people of the cross and resurrection, we boldly confess that God is present with us in every moment of our lives.  And yet we can’t help but wait, watch and long for the presence of hope of God that has yet to be fully revealed to us.

Looking at the brokenness of our world, we cannot boldly proclaim that God’s kingdom is fully among us; it just can’t be.  Justice has not come to all people.  Peace has not been obtained.  The kingdom has not dawned. Christ has not returned.  And in the season of Advent, this little Lord Jesus has not yet come.

So daring to believe that God still cares for all that God has created and that God desires to give life to all people, we boldly pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.”  Come, Lord Jesus, into a world that desperately needs your life, your love…your hope. We need your peace, Lord Jesus. We can’t do it on our own.  Come, Lord Jesus, into our hearts, into our lives, into our communities…into this broken world.
As we pray this Advent season, we all come from our own journeys, marked with our joys, sorrows, successes and challenges. But from wherever we come, we join with all the saints, waiting with eager longing while we watch for the fulfillment of God’s kingdom in our midst. But just maybe…maybe the waiting, watching and longing for Christ to come has just as much hope, promise and good news as the knowledge that God is present with us now. Maybe…just maybe, in the waiting, we have hope that one day, the world will no longer experience pain, injustice, violence and suffering.  In the waiting, we hold onto the Gospel promise that something better is really yet to come.

And that…that sounds like a promise worth holding onto.  A promise that is worth our continued prayers of “Come, Lord Jesus…”

ADVENT POEM By Will Layton, 2nd Year M.Div. Student

Prepare the way, O Zion! Ye awful deeps, rise high;
Sink low, ye lofty mountains, The Lord is drawing nigh.

The wise man in the pulpit says,
“This isn’t going to be easy.”
His white hair and his reputation for truth-telling
(A prophet, maybe?)
Make us all suspect he’s right.
Wars and rumors of wars,
Wars and rumors of wars.

That night, in a bar downtown, a woman sings:
“A change is gonna come.”
She sings as if she knows
The change will be right,
But we suspect it won’t be easy.
Wars and rumors of wars,
Wars and rumors of wars.

A young woman, expecting
Watches out the window,
As the streets of Detroit boil
Rebellion, riot, protest,
Change. Suspicion.
A people divided,
Uniformed bodies
And uninformed arms.
Her little boy—will be a month late–
Not easy, coming into a world like this.
Wars and rumors of wars,
Wars and rumors of wars.

On the too-familiar bench outside the courtroom,
Already suspect, easy to condemn,
Another one waits for judgment.
Something needs to change.
Wars and rumors of wars,
Wars and rumors of wars.

Beneath the throne, the saints cry out,
“How long, O Lord, how long?”
Do they think this will be easy?
Wars and rumors of wars,
Wars and rumors of wars.

These things must come to pass.

On the morning the stars fell,
It caught us off-guard.
We were all afraid,
So we all went outside together.
And as Jesus Christ passed by on the street,
We suspected things wouldn’t be easy,
But there was a rumor of peace.

PATIENCE By Nat Bothwell, 2nd Year MDiv

Patience lives in the unsettled places.
In our in between-ness,
patience waits.
With a word of promise
patience speaks,
and for a moment,
the hunger for something not yet
is tempered
in a savored “now.”
Patience retrieves our forward thrown hearts –
wrestling them away
from the shores of memories
yet unmade.
Until there is surrender
in the unsettledness of “now” –
Until there is acceptance
in the between-ness of “here,”
patience holds… and hopes, and helps.
Patience endures,
through the churning shadows of our anxiousness,
to the warmth of a whispered truth.
Patience enfolds us – always,
in the embrace of loving stillness;
and with a nod,
says “soon enough.”