This week has been strange -- good, but very strange. For one thing, people are still talking about my sermon. I had a flood of pastoral care concerns after I preached this sermon that were both an honor and a surprise. I'm still a little amazed. And then, our church was attacked by the Christian Right Organization in the state. Why? We love the gays -- which makes us bad people. I'm being intentionally flip because I think it's ridiulous. We hosted the premiere of the film For the Bible Tells Me So in Maine and we got some flack. I think this is something to be proud of -- though I'm not sure everyone agrees with me. There is still this concern about holding tensions that I don't understand sometimes. I know that we are a beloved community that must make space for all -- and yet, I feel that we do this (at times) by telling some of those members of our community to silence themselves only to appease the folks that don't want to confront their own denial (racism, discrimination, homophobia, etc.). And then, dear friends, Advent came.
After church yesterday (and before the snow started last night), I went in search of a good book. It's one of the spiritual practices that I have committed to myself -- not only because bookstores are like church for me. If this makes me a nerd, then so be it. I'm proud. I discovered (or perhaps truly discovered) that this was a good discipline of me during Lent this year. Actually, it was during Holy Week. From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, I journeyed through this week with theologians and scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan in their recent book The Last Week. I loved it. I loved reading every day. I loved thinking and praying about the spiritual significance of this day in our holy calendar. After Easter, I commited to myself that this would become my practice during the seasons of Advent and Lent. I would take a book and read it cover to cover. This is an indulgence for me. And yet, it is necessary and important for my spiritual life.
On the second day of Advent, I went in search of the book that will carry through this season in preparation for the incarnation of God. I have scanned the shelves of our local bookstores in the past few weeks and found nothing. The religion section in these stores leaves a lot to be desired. I did wander into the poetry section at Books Etc. wondering if poetry would carry me through Advent. I decided it would not. I needed to claim my nerdiness and read something a little academic. So, I went to Borders by the mall (the last place one wants to be on a Sunday afternoon in December). However, I was determined. I needed to find a good book. So, I scanned and I searched the shelves. I made audible noises of disgust at what some consider to be Christian. I wondered if the recent release of Mother Teresa's biography entitled Come By My Light would suffice. I decieded I wanted something more Christmas-y. I continued my search. And there it was. Tucked among the Bibles, I found this new book by my old friends Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan.
I raced home and read the first chapter. It's perfect. Borg and Crossan are good company for me as I journey toward Bethlehem this Advent. I'm grateful for their company as they lead me to places expected and unexpected. The journey will not be based on the holy days -- but will take me on a journey through the Gospels of Matthew and Luke as they each tell a different story of Christmas. And because it's a snow day, I get read even more today. Hope you are warm and reading something wonderful as well.