A Letting Go
Tim: This week our attention to turns to peace, which traditionally becomes the focus of Advent’s second Sunday.
Shea: But we’re looking at peace in a slightly different light, thanks to Anne Lamott.
Tim: In her book Almost Everything, she reminds us that peace is something we must find for ourselves.
Shea: What’s more she lets us know we can’t give peace to anyone else, even those we love dearly who may be desperate to find it.
Tim: Lamott calls peace “an inside job”—it’s very intense, personal, and hopefully enduring, work.
Shea: What interests me is how she sees peace as a result of letting go the shame and frustration—even sometimes the sense of failure—that we inherit from social demands and family expectations. And I’m wondering how that connects with Advent’s longing for peace. How does that work into this pattern Lamott draws for us?
Tim: It’s an interesting question. So often we take the Advent “peace” texts for granted. The child will be a Ruler of Peace, Isaiah promises. The lion and lamb will rest beside one another. High places will be brought low, depressed places will be lifted up. This poetry is in our bones. We’ve heard it for as long as we can remember. So long, in fact, that we don’t really think about these familiar verses very much.
Shea: What should we be thinking?
Tim: That’s what we’ll explore in this Thursday’s study. Onething I’d encourage us to consider is that the Gospels tell us Jesus was not born into peaceful circumstances. Both in Bethlehem and in the foretelling of Christ’s return, Advent actually disturbs the peace. Now why would that be?
Shea: Because the presence of Christ brings something new and powerful into the being. It requires us to let go of so much of what we rely on: our understanding of what is “normal” and “acceptable,” our belief that we are self-sufficient—
Tim: Our nagging worries that we don’t measure up—
Shea: And in the end our fear of losing control. That’s really how the coming of Christ disturbs the peace. And yet it’s also how peace comes to us.
Tim: To find peace means letting go, surrendering the idea that we’re in control, that we ever were or could be in control. It’s what pushes us to rely on the saving and keeping power of divine grace.
Shea: The coming of Christ teaches us peace is an inside job, something we have to wrestle out with ourselves.
Tim: This week’s look at peace is going to challenge us in a lot ways!
Shea: It will be a gift, that’s for sure.
Join us this Thursday at 7:30 as we begin our four-week Advent study series, Hopeward Bound, a hope-peace-joy-love sequence of conversations in tandem with Anne Lamott’s Almost Everything: Notes on Hope. We will meet in the Chapel of Pilgrim Congregational Church, 460 Lake Street, in Oak Park, Illinois. If you’re unable to get there in person, find us online at Facebook Live.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.