Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

tidings of comfort and joy...

It's always heartening to see little hints of grace, the more so at this time of year as we ponder the "unspeakable gift" of Christ. I'm planning to write more about the unspeakable gift tomorrow, but for now, note with me that hints of grace and good things can be seen in more than hearth and home, if we'll but look.

Consider ING direct, whose employees skipped their holiday parties so that they could forgive a month of mortgage payments for 500 families who offered the most compelling essays of need. Let the cynics rant. When they're finished, it's still true that Christine Feterowski, who has bladder cancer and is thus not working, will be able to receive care from husband during her impending surgery without needing to worry about the mortgage, at least for a month.

In Seattle, the snowstorm has so severely curtailed travel, that last minute shoppers in the city are skipping trips to the mall on icy roads, choosing instead to buy from (gasp)local merchants! Instead of wii, Legos, board games, and wooden trains have becomes the purchases of choice (or perhaps necessity). Local bookshops are even seeing a spike in sales because our streets are so snow clogged that even mail delivery is sketchy. Bill McKibben and Wendell Barry, both advocates of more localized economies, would be proud because this kind of living has countless advantages for families, economies, and the environment.

Luke 4:19 says that the presence of Jesus will result in the "favorable year of the Lord" being proclaimed which, of course, has its roots in the Old Testament forgiveness of debts as seen in God's jubilee year. That's why I love the ING story. Our hearts sing when we hear about forgiveness of debts because we're born in need of forgiveness and called to live in such way that forgiveness and mercy flow through us, being poured out onto a parched world.

The story of localized shopping reminds me that people find a way. Can't travel? The stuff you want can't travel either? Maybe we'll learn to want different stuff, shop at Farmer's Markets, interact with our neighbors, and in the process pollute less, exercise more, lower your stress levels, give work to craftsmen and craftswomen, and find beauty in creation. It can happen, because this week it has happened in our city, paralyzed by snow, yet finding a way to get on, and perhaps finding the alternative is better than the original.

These are hints of grace, tidings of comfort and joy, reminders that we have eternity in our hearts. Maybe you've seen some hints too. Feel free to share them.



At 23/12/08 10:26, Anonymous Alison Wiley said...

Great post, Richard. I love the way you are keeping the faith.

Since you are asking us to share . . . . here are some ways I seek grace and a soulful life rather than endless materialism:

At 29/12/08 15:08, Blogger lacy rain said...


It is amazing to me how much I've been thinking of this very same thing, that our city has been paralyzed from Christmas shopping and huge holiday parties, only to live with the necessities this holiday season.

I have heard a lot of groaning about it at work, but I've also noticed people seem quite a bit less stressed. Many people at work have commented that their family just laid low on Christmas and didn't drive and they actually felt relaxed at Christmas. Remarkable! I too have been proud of those in my life who are choosing to instead buy local, buy things people actually, truly need, contribute to non-profits in the name of others as gifts and just choose as a family, to forego presents this year. I am amazed at how truly resilient we are and how easy it is to give up the luxuries.

Thank you for pointing this out to us, afterall, Christmas is not about the presents, we all know that and sometimes need a helpful reminder.


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