An Advent Conspiracy? Count me in! If you’re just tuning in, all you need to know is that each week’s theme is brilliantly simple: Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, and Love All. That’s how we can make Advent and Christmas rich with meaning. We’re in the homestretch, so let’s dive in:
LOVE ALL is not about the love that comes easy with friends and family.
LOVE ALL is not about the romantic feeling of falling in love that we celebrate on Valentine’s Day.
LOVE ALL is not seeking revenge or keeping score.
LOVE ALL is not charity to those from whom we can walk away.
LOVE ALL is not warm and fuzzy.
LOVE ALL is messy and hard.
LOVE ALL because not all people are loved in the world.
love all BECAUSE NOT ALL PEOPLE ARE LOVED IN THE WORLD.
LOVE ALL = Recognizing that there are people (neighbors, colleagues, tough family members) in our own little worlds who fall outside of the reach of who we choose to love.
LOVE ALL = Continuing to shower love on friends and family, but also choosing to constantly listen to people different from us: their experiences, their worldviews, their pain.
LOVE ALL = Recognizing that there are groups of people in the world, who might not be right in front of our faces, but who are systematically denied from flourishing.
LOVE ALL = Choosing to constantly learn more about what’s going on around the globe and choosing to listen to those who have been tormented by our laws, systems and policies, and choosing to align with those willing to do the hard work of dismantling those human-constructs.
LOVE ALL = Recognizing that our structures and policies keep people segregated, that deny whole groups of people from flourishing, that dehumanize, that justify violence, that make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
LOVE ALL = Choosing to stop explaining and defending these very systems and choosing to promote alternatives that let all flourish within them.
LOVE ALL = Recognizing that our individual choices can figuratively strangle the breath from those around us.
LOVE ALL = Releasing our figurative grip on life so that others may breathe freely.
LOVE ALL = Living simply so that others might simply live.
LOVE ALL = Using the power of our wallets, paying a little extra so that others get what is due to them.
LOVE ALL = Looking for and honoring the humanity of each person we encounter.
LOVE ALL = Giving special preference to those who are oppressed.
LOVE ALL = Understanding how our collective actions impact the poor.
LOVE ALL = Following our discomfort.
LOVE ALL = Going the extra mile after the extra mile, giving the benefit of the doubt again and again.
LOVE ALL = Paying attention to when fear overcomes us.
LOVE ALL = Trusting that there is nothing to fear, refusing to let difference scare us and allowing our commonality to astonish us.
LOVE ALL = Analyzing how power and privilege are sometimes subtly and other times not so subtly present in our daily lives.
WHEN ALL ARE LOVED = Eric Garner breathes in Staten Island.
WHEN ALL ARE LOVED = Pakistani children and Sandy Hook children grow and learn in safety.
WHEN ALL ARE LOVED = Matthew Shepard laughs with friends.
WHEN ALL ARE LOVED = Celina Ramos walks the streets of San Salvador.
WHEN ALL ARE LOVED = Ferguson shows the world what transformation looks like.
WHEN ALL ARE LOVED = All people are treated equally under the law.
WHEN ALL ARE LOVED = No one profits from our system of incarceration.
WHEN ALL ARE LOVED = Death is eliminated from our menu of penalties.
WHEN ALL ARE LOVED = Our minimum wages become living wages.
WHEN ALL ARE LOVED = Nations turn their armor and weapons into tractors and grain silos.
WHEN ALL ARE LOVED = Our sad divisions cease.
LOVE ALL = Reconciling with those who have harmed us.
LOVE ALL = Treating no one as if she or he is disposable.
LOVE ALL = Denouncing violence of any kind.
LOVE ALL = Living mercifully.
LOVE ALL = Living like we belong to each other.
LOVE ALL = Breathing.
And what might Advent and Christmas have to say about this?
These seasons remind us that God is LOVE ALL. God is our very breath. God is the air that enters our lungs and our peace when we exhale. God is the clarity we receive when we are able to breathe deeply. God is our flourishing. God is here and now and always. LOVE ALL is our hope for a better future.
Christians believe that God came in the form of Jesus, born to immigrant parents in the still of the night in a humble shack as they tried to escape the suffocating grasp of the policies and systems of their own time. Christians believe God came in the form of an innocent child and that the child grew to become someone who was ridiculed, hated, beaten, nailed to a cross and discarded because he tried to show us a different way to live a life of radical love. The child grew up and chose to LOVE ALL and WHEN ALL ARE LOVED became possible. And this love gave people new life and this love gave them the chance to breathe anew. And we, too, can choose it and we can breathe it and we can do this unto others.
Oh come Emmanuel, oh come our hope for Peace, oh come our end of night.
During this Christmas season, please join me in committing to take time each day to simply breathe and discover ways to let others in our own little world do the same and ways to let others in the whole big world do the same.