Advent, Wednesday

Take time today to read Isaiah 2-4. Read each word carefully and hear the Lord’s accusation of his people, how their desire to look for hope through reason and logic seduced them to look away from God. See how in the beginning of chapter 2 and the end of chapter 4 the Lord speaks of a time when his presence will bring life and peace to all. See his invitation to his people to place their hope in him rather than man  (2:22, 3:4-5). Stunning!

hope-proposal

A MEDITATION

“Come Lord Jesus,” the Advent mantra, means that all of Christian history has to live out a kind of deliberate emptiness, a kind of chosen non-fulfillment. Perfect fullness is always to come, and we do not need to demand it now. This keeps the field of life wide open and especially open to grace and to a future created by God rather than ourselves. This is exactly what it means to be “awake,” as the Gospel urges us! We can also use other a words for Advent: aware, alive, attentive, alert, awake, are all appropriate! Advent is, above else, a call to full consciousness and a forewarning about the high price of consciousness.

When we demand satisfaction of one another, when we demand any completion to history on our terms, when we demand that our anxiety or any dissatisfaction be taken away, saying as it were, “Why weren’t you this for me? Why didn’t life do that for me?” we are refusing to say, “Come, Lord Jesus.” We are refusing to hold out for the full picture that is always given to us by God.

“Come, Lord Jesus” is a leap into the kind of freedom and surrender that is rightly called the virtue of hope. The theological virtue of hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our Satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves. We are able to trust that he will come again, just has Jesus has come in our past, into our private dilemmas and into our suffering world.”¹

As you wait on the Lord, what will you need to surrender to him in order to say “Come, Lord Jesus?” What are you holding on to that is causing you to wait for the “full picture that is always given  to us by God?”


¹Adapted from the “Introduction” (pp. xiii-xv), and chapter 1, “First Sunday of Advent” (pp. 1-3) of ‘Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent’ by Richard Rohr. Copyright @ 2008, Richard Rohr.

Advent Hope, Tuesday

Hey there, you may or may not know but we have a study guide for you that leads you deeper into Sunday’s Advent meditation. For this week, we remember Advent-Hope.

Here is what you will find in the study guide.

  • A little background on the prophet we listened to on Sunday.
  • Just over one page of introduction that leads in to the study written from a cultural perspective.
  • The focus text to explore and study
  • Practical reflection questions centered upon the text in light of the Advent season (you can take one or two a day, or do it all in one sitting)
  • Closing meditation with a closing question (or two)
  • A prayer

You can download the Advent Study Guide here as well as find other resources. We want Advent to be a meaningful season for all of you. If you choose to download the study guide, please email me and let me know you did (fred@williamsburgchristianchurch.org). I hope you find it formative and helpful. It was a blessing and joy to put it together.

In the meantime, Garrett creates these great little graphics from Sunday’s conversation. He chooses the portions of the conversation that he believes are the most stirring and poignant. Our hope is that they spur on more conversation in your hearts and homes.

Each day we will share these graphics via the blog. We hope they bless you as you remain joined in God’s pursuit of restoring lives during this Advent season. May we all listen well to the prophets and open our eyes to the prophetic ministry of our Lord Jesus, and see the “new way forward” he proposes.

hope-poet-prophets
See you Sunday.
Your bro,
Fred

A Word as We Approach Sunday

Hello WCC family,

I’ve received several text messages, emails and Facebook messages today from friends, neighbors and church family members asking me what I think about the results of the election. Since I can connect to many of you through this blog I figured I will respond, despite my hesitation to add to the overwhelming number of voices you are hearing and reading.

Like you, I have many friends, neighbors and fellow Christ-followers who feel a myriad of emotions, of which include all of you. Some are elated and relieved, some are hurting and angry, and some are regretful and confused. At best, a few are trying to be slow to speak and quick to listen as they process. At worst, some are gloating in prideful arrogance or lashing out in judgmental anger. What I have been determined to do is to remember that all of these feelings arise from deep convictions that led each one to a voting booth to place trust and hope for the well-being of our country in the leadership of a political leader. This has caused me to remember that later this week all of us will bring these mixed feelings together in one room to be led to the Lord’s Table. It is there we will be reminded that we are invited by the Lord of creation to place all our trust and hope in Him as one family, indivisible, believing in a different kind of liberty and restorative justice for all.

So, I encourage you all to feel deeply, whatever you feel. But I encourage you to feel what you feel in the presence of others, rather than Facebook. I encourage to feel deeply because I know that your feelings, no matter how visceral, will not run off the One who knows you best and loves you most. He knows our frailty and fragility, our fears and worries, our tendency toward prideful arrogance and misplaced affections. And yet, He loves us unconditionally and beckons us to come to Him at His Table, to be reminded that we are to trust Him and Him alone. I believe that His hope is that we will be formed and reordered by this kind of unconditional love so that we will leave grateful, ready to love every single neighbor we encounter, despite the ideology that has helped formed their feelings due to the election results. I believe that His hope is that we will remember that we are His “royal priesthood” and citizens of His “holy nation” (see 1 Peter 2:9-10) and are to join Him in embracing others in the same way we’ve been embraced by Christ, especially the vulnerable in our society.

Believing all of this pushes me to an awareness that I need to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and open to being present with my friends, neighbors and church family members feeling any set of emotions, whether I agree or disagree with how they feel. To put it another way, I will try to treat others as I would want them to treat me.

So brother and sister, if the candidate you supported won or lost, my prayer for you will be that in your grief or relief, your sorrow or satisfaction, you will find it within you to feel what you feel without giving in to the temptation to dehumanize, demean or belittle others. My hope is that very soon all will be able to step back and remember that neither candidate can truly be the hope of the world or even these United States. Only Jesus as Lord can be that, and His body, the Church, should commit ourselves to proclaim and embody this confession.

Finally, may we remember that in a deeply divided country our God has given birth to a new kind of family the Scriptures call a “holy nation” (see 1 Peter 2:9-10) to be a kingdom indivisible, unwavering in allegiance, unbridled in love, and committed to prophetically proclaim liberty and restorative justice for all, especially the last, least, left-out, and lonely in our society. No matter what comes may we refuse to be complicit to any injustice that dehumanizes another person made in our God’s image, and may we at Williamsburg Christian Church through our words and actions ensure that all our neighbors, regardless of race, class, nationality, sexual orientation, or religion, know that they are loved and welcomed by God, and loved and welcomed by the family of Williamsburg Christian Church.

I love you all. Every single one of you.

I will see you at the Lord’s Table this Sunday.

~ Fred

Reordered Lives, a Disordered Society and Eucharistic Living

wine and breadIf this election season has accomplished anything, it has been the disordering of many relationships. Political ideologies mixed in with a commitment to a particular set of values, virtues or fears have put friend against friend. Sadly, the Church is no exception. There are many reasons for this, for which I will not attempt to unpack here. I am only interested in the way forward because November 9th is coming. Jesus will still be Lord, neighbors will still be present to love, and the Church will still be called by God participate in his work in the world by the Spirit. If the church is stay oriented to this invitation, we will need to reorder what has become (sadly) disordered–lives, relationships, ethics, politics; we will need a renewed invitation to the eucharistic Table.¹

In my church family, we have a eucharistic orientation to our weekly worship gathering, which moves us directly from the proclamation of the Word (sermon, teaching or open conversation) to the Table. We no longer offer an “altar call” (in my tradition we call this an “invitation,” usually to repentance and baptism). We invite people to tend to the presence of Christ among us by coming forward in two lines side-by-side to the Table. Now, I do not believe there is anything wrong with the former and I do not mean to shun or devalue different liturgical impulses. Each church has it’s tradition based upon theological commitments. But for us, it is a renewed theological (and missiological) commitment that has necessitated our shift from Word to Altar, to Word to Table (Sacrament or Eucharist).

We have found that coming together to the Lord’s table after the Word has been proclaimed reorders our lives. It calls us to submit all ideologies to the lordship of Jesus Christ. The way to guard ourselves from allowing our ideologies to overshadow the truth and cultivate eucharistic living—the way of gratefulness, hospitality, the culmination of the common life rooted in our true identity, and in preparation for mission–is our weekly practice of Word to Table.

Rehearsing the Gospel

Coming together to the Lord’s table serves as a rehearsal of the gospel as we practice receiving the welcome of Christ. Through the Word we reflect upon the dramatic unfolding of God’s redemptive work in and for the world. At the Table we prayerfully submit to it’s authority and participate in what God has done for the sake of the world as we discern his presence among us. The Lord’s table becomes the embodiment of submission and participation both to and with Jesus as Lord, and to and with one another as his Church. The inseparability of Word to Eucharist reorders our lives and reinforces our identity in the presence of Christ: we are the children of God delivered from the reign of sin and death and transferred into the reign of grace as citizens of his kingdom.

Cultivating a Grateful Community

As we come forward together to receive the bread and wine with an attitude of faith and self-examination, we remember and proclaim the death of Christ, receive nourishment for our souls, and signify our unity with Christ and one another. At the Lord’s table we remember our need and God’s provision, which becomes our training for grateful living. All we are and have is a gift of grace, no matter how mundane or seemingly ordinary. God uses the ordinariness of the bread and wine to help us remember the nourishment he provides to us in Christ. Just as eating and drinking is basic to life and captivates all our senses, the presence of Christ in the midst of his people leads to human flourishing and captivates all aspects of life. Our hope is to leave the Table with gratefulness as the disposition of our lives so we may resist the disposition of selfishness.

Cultivating a Common Life in Community

At the Lord’s table we acknowledge both our need for one another and common belonging, which becomes our training for cultivating a common life. In the Eucharist we remember the announcement that all wrongs have been forgiven by God, so we must become a forgiving community. In the Eucharist we remember that God shares all he has in Christ, so we must be willing to share all we have with one another. In the Eucharist we remember that the walls of hostility which once separated us from God and one another have been torn down, so we must become a peace-making, reconciling community. At the Lord’s table the ideologies and antagonisms that drive wedges between us are placed in submission to the presence Christ as he draws us toward each other. The fear-driven, death-dealing narratives of party-politics and society’s “-isms” at work among us are exposed and placed in submission to the lordship of Christ. The permission we give ourselves to choose who sits at our daily tables is called into question as we acknowledge that we do not get to choose who sits at the Lord’s table. As our gracious Host, the Lord alone determines who is welcomed and he has made it clear that any one can come.

The Table as Training for Hospitality and Homemaking in a Inhospitable Society of Displacement

Therefore, the Table becomes our training for hospitality in a inhospitable society. The same kind of welcome extended to us by Christ becomes the same kind of welcome we extend to others. In the bread and wine we remember that we have made our home with God and are summoned to become homemakers in society. We have received his hospitality and are summoned to live hospitably before the world. If we understand the Eucharist this way, our personal tables become an extension of the Lord’s table. Our lunch tables become extensions of the Lord’s table. Our cubicles become extensions of the Lord’s table, because we remember that we are to be as welcoming to the person who cleans our trash as to the person who signs our paychecks.

As we come to the Table this weekend, come remembering that it is here our lives are reordered despite a disordered society; it is here we are formed as a people, a family, on mission with God in our society.

See you Sunday!

~ Fred


  1. Eucharist means thanksgiving [eucharistēsas]. The word is found in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Scholars believe it is used by Paul to point back to the Last Supper in Mark 14:22-25, Matthew 26:26-29, Luke 22:14-20. I tend to agree.