Waiting is not something we Americans like. We prefer staying busy and being productive. We’ve even figured out ways to hire people to wait in line for us! But waiting is a part of life — waiting for doctors’ test results, waiting to hear about that job interview, waiting for a wrong to be righted. This first Sunday of Advent we try to increase our awareness of the God who is with us in what we’re waiting for.
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Kyle leads us in remembering loved ones lost by people in our community over the last year, sharing about his own recent loss, and about how a “This American Life” episode following a mother who lost her daughter in the Aurora, CO movie theater shooting has helped him experience Jesus’ comfort.
The American Religious Right’s conflation of faith and partisan politics has been bad for the country and for faith... But, while Vince used to feel the best response to that was to strive to pursue an politically neutral faith (“both sides are equally bad/good when it comes to the model of Jesus”), he now feels that to be just as unsatisfactory... so what now?
To mark Father’s Day this year, Kyle reads some reflections from men in our community on fathers and fatherhood, and shares his own, helping us to consider the image of Father for God as something that isn’t so much about gender, but rather about inheritance, identity, and belonging.
Kyle explains from personal experience how conversations about faith, God, or meaning can get very ugly, and how wanting to avoid such conversations like the plague is a very reasonable thing. But he also describes discovering a different, good version of faith conversation, and encourages us to push through the discomfort of going deep with people so we can enjoy and be changed by them.
Arrogance and unteachable-ness are often right at home in religious settings. To protect against this, "humility" is our number one value at BLV. Even though humility means hits to our egos, in Vince's experience, it has given and continues to give gift after gift to him personally. So what does it actually mean or look like for a community or an individual to prioritize humility?
In a jumble of plenty of negative experiences with church, there has been a noteworthy thread through Kyle's life of experiences of feeling unconditional loved by something outside of himself. What has that taught him? What can that teach us?
In our experience, setting aside questions of IN vs. OUT doesn't make following Jesus matter less, it makes following Jesus matter more. We are freed up to focus on what life is truly about, like our topic this week: growing up, not just old -- becoming mature, grounded people who healthily process their stresses and pains, rather than pass them on to others.
The Bible was written by and for oppressed minorities. People of privilege can miss this and therefore miss a great deal of the meaning behind the Bible's many writings. In light of the white supremacy, hate, and prejudice we have witnessed in our country this past month, we need just such an oppressed-minority voice to guide us.
Hard-wired into humans is an incredible tool to enhance our daily experience of life, to help us turn our relational circuits on when stress has turned them off, and to connect with God and other people. That tool is our memory!