This felt like quite the eventful weekend with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, the untimely death of Paul Walker and the start of Advent. Just about each of these deserve a post on their own and I’ll make that a goal this week.
I hope all went with yours. Ours was spent with family friends that included newlyweds, two recently engaged couples, a newborn, about a dozen kids under 10, silly games, a spontaneous worship service, great food of course (that included traditional turkey and middle eastern delicacies like grape leaves!) and conversations about law, faith, Lady Gaga and the history of how we Egyptians created civilization (God may have helped a little).
Throughout the weekend, I’ve been wanting to find time and at least think/journal about what I’m thankful for that does not include faith, family or friends. On one level, there’s not much else. On another, I find it stretching and hoping to get there. One thing that does come to mind is that I am grateful to find myself in a church context that allows for change. On one level, it welcomes it, on another, our organizational structure and culture are very careful with it. Change affects people and we need to be careful but good change is great for others and so we need to pursue what is truly better. Yeah, I’ll think I’ll try to blog about this soon.
Also hopefully this week I’ll post a bit on some thoughts on Black Friday but somehow I found myself defending the shoppers of this crazy day marked by mayhem, materialism and marketing (yes my alliteration skills are improving – thanks Eminem – I watch the last battle in 8 Mile every chance I get.)
Now, I too, resent the retailers and marketers for some of these disgraceful tactics of opening on Thanksgiving Day, ridiculous discounts on popular products only available in limited quantities and attempting to create a hysteria over products (this year’s XBox One and PS4). I’m not defending any of this crap and it’s always important to call it out but let’s be careful.
That said, I was surprised by all the posts on Twitter and Facebook I saw against shopping on Black Friday. Some were harsh, some came off as self-righteous and some felt too much “us verses them.” This deserves a post on its own soon too but it certainly marked the weekend for me.
The Tragic News of Paul Walker
Saturday night my wife saw on Facebook someone saying that Paul Walker died. My first thought was, “Oh if it’s true, I hope it’s not drug-related.” As posts and updates started emerging, I found no relief in the actor dying in a car crash which reminded me that I wouldn’t have been ok with any type of death to anyone who passes before their time, actor, soldier, civilian, this country or another – death is always tragic.
I said to one of my small groups that I always feel that I am one tragedy away from abandoning my faith. It’s emotional hyperbole but I’m still reeling from the images from the Philippines and my heart sinks about a dozen times a day when I read, hear or watch of a tragic death – The internet, email prayer requests, hallway conversations, a lot of bad news out there.
What’s unique about celebrity deaths is they represent a lot of different things to a broad number of people. When people express their grief, they do feel bad for Paul Walker but they also feel bad for themselves. I think that’s why celebrity deaths feel a bit more personal.
I have a few lines in a draft on this which includes some pointed words to the trolls. I’ll let those words cool down but I find the rejoicing in tragedy to be near inhumane.
The Start of Advent
Sunday began Advent and I have come to crave this month of centering and expectation. What’s so special about Christmas? Advent helps us journey to the answer. Further, I love that the two main Christian holidays Christmas and Easter offer solutions to the problem of pain, evil, suffering and death. God grieved by the same things, dramatically intervenes, proclaims hope and offers redemption to all of creation. This is the Jesus story.
I love that our church is participating again in the Advent Conspiracy and eager about leaning into our theme “Give More.” Reclaiming the meaning and joy of Christmas is a gift to your soul and to the souls of others. It’s a great way to finish the year and enter the next one.
Links for the interested:
Grace Chapel’s Advent/Christmas Page
Sign up for “Journey to the Manger” a daily Advent devotional written by Gordon Conwell Seminary faculty sent to your email.
The Advent Conspiracy Homepage
More to come, thanks for reading and consider signing up to receive these posts via email or add this blog to your RSS Reader (links on the right under “Let’s Connect”).
Grace and peace,