December 1, 2014

Keep Awake

Not too long ago my church, St. Lydia’s, moved into its own storefront location. Previously, we had borrowed or rented space for just a few hours each week. It wasn’t an easy process in New York City, and in some ways it mirrored the process my wife have been experiencing as we look for a new apartment. We have been asking ourselves: What kind of home do we want to create? What can we afford? Where can we best create community? In a sense we are asking ourselves: Who are we and who do we want to be?

In this past Sunday’s readings, Jesus says, “Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake."

Advent is a time of preparation. Part of this preparation is examining ourselves, our desires and our needs, and asking what kind of home we want to make in this world. Who are we and who do we want to be?

In light of recent events in Ferguson and around the country, these are questions our country has been asking itself. Have some of us fallen asleep to the realities of racism and poverty that many people face? Can we be better? Are we awake?

The process of waking up can be a painful one. Some of the conversations about housing that my wife and I are having are difficult, as we confront some of our own prejudices and blind spots, as we come face to face with gentrification, and as we acknowledge over and over again how fortunate we are to have the choices we have.

We don’t always agree. Neither will our faith and secular communities always see eye to eye as we prepare the house for the master. Waking up to ourselves and to the world we have created—which is not yet free of poverty, racism, and injustice—will require a lot of us as individuals and as a Church. It will require difficult conversations and listening to people with whom we disagree or whose experience differs greatly from ours. This is especially true of those of us privileged by our race or economic background.

May Advent be a time of awakening and preparation. May we ask ourselves in our hearts and in our communities, What kind of home do we want to make in this world? Who are we and who do we want to be?

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