Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Continuing in the "Unsettling Advent" series

When I lived briefly lived in Oklahoma in the mid-1980's, I recall the banner on "The Daily Oklahoman" newspaper: "To comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable."

William Stringfellow points out that Holy Spirit is not just Comforter/Counselor, but Agitator.

So, Advent is a real "good news, bad news" season. "He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty," Luke 1:53.  It brings news of comfort for some and news of coming affliction for others (though I know of no one who actually thinks there's anything afflicting associated with Christmas).

This Advent season, I keep asking myself: Where am I in this story?  Am I to take comfort or take cover?  Am I to rejoice that I am being lifted up or to rejoice that I am being brought down?  Are those of us in America who claim to embrace the Good News really ready to accept its implications regarding our daily living?

I wonder: am I one who afflicts?  Who in the world is being afflicted directly or indirectly by my choices, practices, needs, desires, tastes, demands and status quo in which I fully--through usually unwittingly--participate?  Do I really want to know?

On the other hand, I wonder: am I one who comforts?  Who in this wide world is being comforted because of me?  Who in the world is being liberated, released, or empowered as a director indirect impact of my sensitivities, priorities, choices, influence, use of gifts, gift-giving, donations, service, prayers and commitments?

I ask these questions but, like Ebenezer Scrooge, I am not sure I want to hear the honest answers.

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