Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Peace vs. Hatred

Advent wreath at Susanna Wesley UMC - Photo from their Facebook page
I sent this text to my family Sunday morning (December 8) after the girls and I arrived for worship at their Topeka church:
Irony of the morning: Peace candle is lit for Advent at church. Protestors from Westboro Baptist Church stand across the street as we arrive. Part of Advent litany talked about the hatred in the world. Thankful that Kinley didn't see them on the way into the church.
Jill says the protestors have been there before, though their presence is sporadic and had never coincided with one of my Sundays in Topeka.

Frankly, I wish my record of not seeing them had stayed intact. However, I've continued to think about the juxtaposition of hate vs. love and peace. So maybe it was an Advent message I was meant to ponder.

The Advent candle litany said, in part:
Because hatred is still so strong, because so many swords have not yet been beaten into plowshares, we light a candle of peace. May the light from this candle overwhelm the world. May the light from this candle say to all that God's peace is coming on earth as it already is in heaven! 
In his sermon that morning, Pastor Andrew talked about the preparations they, as a young family, made to get their home ready for Christmas. He talked about shuffling furniture to make room for the tree and then unwrapping the ornaments.
When I think about the tree, I also think about our lives - reflecting back on the things past or looking forward to the things to come ahead. What will be unexpectedly beautiful? What will break by accident? What events will occur in which we need to find our place?
His reference to shattered ornaments took me back to our own Hanging of the Greens at Stafford UMC in late November. As I made my way through the church foyer that day, a dad was sweeping up the remnants of a glass ornament. I smiled and asked him how many had succumbed this year. Only the one, he told me.
Children's tree at Stafford UMC - Children made the nativity ornaments this year in Sunday School
One broken bulb (or even two or three) is a small price to pay for involving young children in the Advent preparations - whether that's at home or at church.
Jon and Bryson shared their love of Christmas bulbs during our Hanging of the Greens event.
 Besides, sometimes, we need to be broken for Christ's light to shine through:

Blessed are the broken and cracked 
for they allow God's light 
to shine through them.

Yes, we are broken. The world is broken. Even if there aren't protestors standing on a street corner, there are plenty of disagreements and differences in opinion. Just take a stroll through Facebook or Twitter and the hatred isn't hard to find.
On that Sunday, the Advent choir anthem said, in part:

Soon a tiny child will come
A gift from God above
To teach us all to live in peace
And fill our lives with love.
He will teach us how to love.
May that be more than just a sentiment in a Christmas anthem or a saying hung from the Christmas tree.

Advent is when we name and remember our longing for and need of forgiveness, restoration and redemption in the present day, while we wait for Christ to come again in final victory. While we wait, Jesus calls us into the world to participate in acts of compassion, preparing the way for God’s love to be known by all who need to hear the good news, having their sight restored and experiencing freedom. During this season, we prepare our own lives for one of the most transformative understandings of Jesus’ coming - his mission to set us free.
From Susanna Wesley UMC's Facebook page

I will take a short hiatus from blogging as Christmas approaches. Adding to an already-packed schedule as CEO of Christmas preparations around here, we are selling feeder calves this week. That adds cattle sorting and loading to the holiday mix this week.Wish us luck!

Wishing you and yours PEACE on earth and tidings of great JOY!


  1. Beautifully stated Kim. Thank you

  2. Hope you make a fat profit on the calves. Happy Holidays and see you next year!

    1. Thank you! We got them sorted on Tuesday, the semi loaded this morning and they sell on Thursday. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  3. GReat news on the cattle. I hope the sale went well. Blessings to you and yours as you celebrate this very special time of year.

    1. And the same to you, Helen. I think it's amazing that we connect though we're half a world away.