Dear Advent Conspirators, (see previous post)
I may receive a "cease and desist" letter from an attorney. I happened to see the words Every Day Matters right above the JCPenney brand name on their 12/02 advertising catalog that came in the Sunday paper. This catalog has "must-have gifts for everyone on your list!" To further implant impulse buying in us, JCP has made Every Day Matters a registered trademark. No kidding. It's there. TM.
Must have... Really??? I looked through the entire catalog and I did not see one opportunity to provide food for the hungry people who came to Operation Nightwatch worship last night. I did not see one dry place to sleep for the people who came in wet and cold after more than 24 hours of cold rain, another 24 hours still to go. I did not see one bed opening up for the heroin addict who in the harshest of environments has cut his drug use by 2/3 and has been waiting for nearly a year to get into a program but is still number 7 on the waiting list. I did not see one place in the catalog for the prayer we gave this man so that he keeps it together long enough to see his lucky number finally come up. I didn't see anything in the catalog to help the people we can't even serve now because the cold and the wet have pushed them back into drug and alcohol use to numb the misery. I didn't find any jobs or housing in that catalog. So am I to assume these would not be "must-have gifts" for the people on my list?
Every Day Matters. Is "matters" a noun or a verb? I think it's like love. Love is meaningless as a noun unless it is first a verb. Active voice, transitive verb.
The gospel text for the First Sunday in Advent was Matthew 24:36-44. I added verse 35 also. Makes more sense that way. There are many themes in this passage. It teases us into the Advent season by teasing us with eschatology, the end of days, the coming of the Son of Man. We get sidetracked into the question of when instead of dealing with the question of what it means. We waste so much time wondering about the Second Coming that we seem to completely miss the implications of the First Coming.
Jesus says, "Keep awake!" That means, "Don't go to sleep. Don't fool yourselves into thinking that you live in a time when every day does not matter." Every day does matter. Jesus came not only to save the world in the future, but to shake up its very foundations, to turn things upside-down and right-side-up. Today. Every day. Days matter. Everyday matters matter.
Yesterday morning in church Heather T. preached in her delicious accent born in the UK. She read Matthew 1:18-25. Two names in that text. Jesus = Yeshua = Yahweh saves. Emmanuel = God with us. I was looking out the window defaced by black painted gang graffiti as Heather read the words "for he will save his people from their sins." In my mind still echoed the sounds of the young woman's voice as she earlier played her guitar and sang, "Mary still had to rock her Savior to sleep."
How God begins. Where God begins. Why God begins.
From what sins must his people be saved? Personal foibles and failings, little white lies? Only? How about from the very arrogance of nations that choose war but claim it was thrust upon them and disguise it under idolatrous patriotism? How about the sin of drowning in our own stuff even as we are blind to the destruction of God's creation and the hunger and need for shelter all around us? How about having turned the birth of Christ into a commercial abomination and having staked our whole economy, whole way of life, our very children's future on it?
Sin does not come to the world looking like sin. It comes looking like righteousness. I repeat. Sin does not come to the world looking like sin. It comes looking like righteousness.
He will save his people from their sins.
Yeshua. In Hebrew that is not simply a name. It is a complete declarative sentence: subject and verb. Yahweh saves. God, that's good news! Keep awake. Every Day Matters.
JCPenney, I'll see your registered trademark and raise you one kingdom of God.