December 2, 2013


Recently I’ve been doing a lot of packing. Well, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling which requires packing—trips for work and trips to visit family—something we are all familiar with.

Packing is always an exercise in determining both what you need and what you don’t. . I need a couple pairs of paints, but I probably don’t need the third pair (I mean, my suitcase is only so big). I need a book to read but I don’t need to bring three. I need a notepad but I probably don’t need my laptop this time. 

What do I need? What don’t I need?

These are useful questions for individuals and communities to ask themselves, particularly in Advent, this time of preparation. It’s an opportunity for us to look at what baggage we are carrying around that we don’t need and what we’re missing in our metaphorical suitcase. 

Maybe we have a ministry that no longer serves us and the community, maybe we are holding on to resentment and bad habits, maybe we have property that is only causing us anxiety. 

And maybe there are things that are missing, a need of the community that is not being met or a lack of structures to welcome newcomers. Maybe we forgot our map, and we’re traveling without a clear vision of where we’re going. 

Packing requires us to get to the essentials. We can’t take everything with us. We can’t have it all, but we do need to make sure we have the important things covered. Looking at ourselves and our communities in this way, and asking ourselves what we need, and what we don’t, can help us learn what we can (and maybe should) leave behind, and what we should probably pick up and put in our bag.