A lot of waiting happens in hospitals. I get to be chaplain to people who are waiting for an organ transplant, waiting for a baby to arrive, waiting for their discharge orders to go home, waiting for test results, waiting for the medication to work, waiting for death, their own or a loved one’s. Often they don’t know how long they will have to wait, and that makes the waiting harder. And no matter what they’re waiting for, they know that things will be different when the waiting is over, in ways that they may not even be able to anticipate.
It’s hard to believe, but we’re coming to the end of Advent already. And that brings us to the hardest part of Advent Conspiracy. Man, I thought Spend Less was tough. But here we are at the final theme, Love All. Really, all?? “Love some” I can handle. Even “love most” would probably be doable. But “all,” everybody – surely that’s going too far! Some people just make it so hard to love them. I met one of them a few weeks ago in the parking lot of a Lowe’s home improvement store. Continue reading “Advent Conspiracy Week 4: Love All”
It sounds like a trick. Last week’s theme in Advent Conspiracy was Spend Less. Now we’re supposed to Give More? Wouldn’t that involve spending more?? True, the way we usually do it, with fancy things wrapped up in pretty boxes, it would mean shelling out more money, spending more time in the store or online. But the idea here is not to give more stuff; it’s to give more of ourselves. Where is your passion? What do you care most about? Continue reading “Advent Conspiracy Week 3: Give More”
Oh, I’ve been dreading this one. Ever since I saw the posters for Advent Conspiracy going up at church a few weeks ago, and I saw that the second week’s theme was about money, I knew that would be the hardest one for me. I’ve never been good with money. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t go on crazy shopping sprees for Jimmy Choo shoes or plasma screen TVs bigger than me or beluga caviar or anything like that. But I do find myself often paraphrasing Captain Jack Sparrow and wondering, “Why is the money always gone?” Continue reading “Advent Conspiracy Week 2: Spend Less”
Last year was my first Advent on this blog, and I wrote about the four weekly themes of Advent (well, three of them anyway – I got too busy one week). This year, since I already wrote about hope very recently in my ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy series, I decided to do something different. Our church is one of many this year participating in Advent Conspiracy, a countercultural movement to focus on the real meaning of this season and not get so caught up in all the “stuff” that goes along with the holidays. I don’t mean writing out Christmas instead of Xmas (which doesn’t bother me since the Greek letter X was an early abbreviation for Christ), or wishing people Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays (which also doesn’t bother me since people of other faiths have holidays at this time of year and I want them to be just as happy). It’s about much more than what we write or what we say. Continue reading “Advent Conspiracy Week 1: Worship Fully”
I have such mixed feelings about the holiday season that, I’ll admit, when one particular Christmas song comes on the radio, I change the words a little and sing, “It’s the most ambivalent time of the year!” I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong. I’m usually the first in my neighborhood to put up Christmas lights, and I look forward all year to my annual holiday party. But the past few years especially, I’ve been feeling kind of left out of Christmas. I hear all the songs on the radio, and watch all the movies, and see all the commercials, and walk past the greeting card aisle, and I get the impression that Christmas isn’t for people like me. It’s for people surrounded by big families, not for those of us who live alone with a dog and have family living hundreds of miles away. It’s for people whose gloriously romantic (and ridiculously wealthy) significant others buy them diamond jewelry and new cars with huge red bows on them, not for those of us without a significant other and living paycheck to paycheck. Most of all, it’s for people who are happy, and there are plenty of days that’s just not me. Continue reading “Ambivalence and Joy: Advent 3”
Israel made me nervous. In all my international travels, I had never been anywhere that I felt so unsafe. Before entering any of the shops in downtown Jerusalem, we had to have our bags searched for weapons, and it seemed every shopkeeper had a story to tell about a bombing that his or her business had managed to survive. One of my friends said that she felt protected because everywhere we went, there were teenage Israeli soldiers with guns. Their presence made me feel just the opposite. And yet every day, we heard “Peace.” Shalom, the Hebrew word for “peace,” is the common greeting there, and it was in our ears and on our lips at each stop along our journey. Shalom. Peace. Continue reading “Fear and Peace: Advent 2”
Last night, I was chaplain to a family dealing with a sudden loss. In their grief, they asked over and over, as so many of us do, “Why?” I didn’t even attempt an answer. Anything would have been just noise at that point. No matter what I said, their loved one would still be dead. The closest I can come to a reason why is that the world is not what it should be. In this season of the liturgical calendar, the lectionary readings remind Christians of just that. Continue reading “Grief and Hope: Advent 1”