United Church of Christ
an open and affirming congregation
Worshiping at Smith Chapel
on the Simpson College campus
Pastor: Rev. Julia Tipton Rendon
Dec. 9, 2018
The second Sunday of Advent. Sparkling lights are everywhere. Christmas parties are beginning. I’ve gotten my first two Christmas cards in the mail.
And it’s cold. Central Iowa is cold this year – which, by the way, does not belie global warning, in case you were wondering. The world seems pretty cold, too. The politics of hate are in full throated cry. The economic situation is uncertain. Things are dark and scary – and for many of us, our own lives are dark and scary, too.
This Advent we’ve chosen to focus on ways to drive back the darkness, to help ourselves keep moving forward. Advent itself is a reminder that we’re moving toward the second coming of the Savior – the coming of the Kingdom of God. Last week we lit the first candle of Advent for truth. Truth is one of the most powerful lights we have – one of the brightest ways to drive back the darkness. We challenged ourselves to look for and to recognize truth this past week. As a recognition of this, I invite you to take one of these slips of paper and write on it a truth you’ve found or faced. You can write it on either side of the paper. Then roll the paper up, with the truth on the inside or the outside, and drop it into this Christmas ball. This will be a reminder that truth has beauty – and creates beauty, eventually, even when it isn’t always pretty.
Today, on this second Sunday, I’d like us to think about another way to light our lives and keep us moving – and also something that helps us face and respond to truth. Companionship. People need people. More specifically, we need people who are willing and able to be with us, to truly celebrate our good joys, to mourn our sorrows, to challenge us when we need it, to comfort us when we need that. We need people who, when we recognize a threatening or frightening truth, will say “Yes, that’s scary. I will help you face it. I will be with you as you move and change. I still love you.”
We also need people to laugh with, to have fun with, to share mutual interests with. Genuine, non-mean laughter always shines a little light. Feeling liked makes us happy. Interest in someone else’s life or situation, even fleeting interest, makes us better people. But not all the people we enjoy having a cup of coffee or glass of wine with, or going to dinner with, or seeing at parties give us the true companionship we need to drive back the deep darkness and help us move toward the Kingdom of God. To be that kind of friend is a burden as well as a blessing. To be that kind of companion we must be able to be quiet, to listen, to hear the unsaid things beneath the words. We need to be strong enough to say to an emotionally bleeding friend “I will be the hand you squeeze to get through your pain, but I will not give you an opiate so you can ignore your painful truth.
Developing these relationships takes an investment on both sides. It takes time, energy, and caring. It demands both strength and vulnerability. But if we are able to find such companionship we have not just a candle, but a torch to drive back the darkness and to show us truth.
To remind us of the beauty of such friends - and of all friends and companions – I invite you to think of those who help you, either this week or in general, and drop a bead into the ball to represent them.
We light the second candle of Advent, driving back the darkness a little more, for companionship.
Let us pray: Loving God, thank you for the companions, the friends, who light our way and bring brightness and truth to our lives. Help us to be people who shine in others’ lives also, as we move forward to your kingdom. Amen.
May 6 by Mairi Winslow
April 8 by Susie Moews
Jan. 21 by Ron Warnet