“Episcopal Church Advent Preparing to Become Blessed Community”….Creating empowered communities!
by Tom Sine
“Advent is a season of preparation: shopping for gifts, decorating our homes and sanctuaries. Advent is also a time to prepare our hearts and communities for the coming of Christ, the Almighty God who came among us poor and homeless, a stranger and a child. There may be no better time to reflect on how we as the Episcopal Church embrace the Holy One who continues to draw near in the neighbor, the stranger, the refugee, or the one who seems most “other” to you. It is the ideal season to commit to becoming Beloved Community and growing loving, liberating, life-giving relationships across the human family of God” Advent and Christmas Resources The Episcopal Church https/www:episcopalchurch.org
I have the opportunity to preach at Saint Andrews Episcopal Church in Seattle the last Sunday of October in preparation for Advent 2021. The scripture is: Mark 12:28-34. “Which Commandment is first of all?’ Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
As all those in all our churches and our neighborhoods continue to struggle with this ongoing Pandemic. I will be urging people at Saint Andrews to recognize that we are no longer living in ordinary changing times. As we race into the turbulent 2020s we suddenly find ourselves and our neighbors living racing into a future of accelerating change.
One of the most concerning consequences is that we not only are seeing declining attendance but also declining giving and volunteering which is undercutting our ability to reach out to our neighbors as we race into Advent 2021.
Saint Andrews and many other churches are still able to offer some important feeding programs. However, I will be encouraging our congregation to also consider collaborating with young people who are starting neighborhood empowerment projects to enable neighbors to become more self reliant.
Working with Christian Reformed Churches in Grand Rapids, several years ago, I introduced CRC leaders to two young innovators in their community who shared their innovative initiatives in community empowerment.
Dana Doll and her team started an empowerment venture working with refugees called Treetop Collectives. Essentially they create programs that enable the growing number of refugees, in their community, to become self-reliant by learning how to make pottery.
I also had a young innovator, Justin Beene, who started Grand Rapids Center for Community Empowerment. He and his team created this program to reach out to a growing number of young people in the black community who are having trouble finding work.
Justin and his young team offer two training programs: 1.Youth Build to train the young in the construction trades: 2. Rising Grinds to train the young who want to to work in coffee shops or restaurants. These programs are having a welcome impact on the lives of those just getting started.
As your church journeys toward Advent could you find both business innovators and young people with empowerment ideas in your congregation.Could you find ways to empower young innovators, in your church or neighborhood, to expand your outreach from feeding activities to empowerment programs as well. I suspect you will be surprised…by lasting difference that could be achieved in the lives of your most vulnerable neighbors.
If you and your congregation celebrate Advent 2021 by working with young innovators in your church or neighborhood to express your love for others through innovative empowerment. Please let me know. I want to share some of your good news stories with others on my web site: www.newchangemakers.com
Tom Sine and co-author Dwight Friesen of: 2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change