D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: advent

day 28

" Christian communities arising from celebration do not want their lives changed, because their lives are in a good place. Tax rates should remain low. Home prices and stocks should continue to rise unabated, while interest rates should remain low to borrow more money to feed a lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

Lament recognized the struggles of life and cries out for justice against existing injustices. The status quo is not to be celebrated but instead must be challenged. If tax rates favor the rich, they should be challenged. Redistribution of wealth would not be a catastrophe but instead a blessing in contrast to the existing state of economic inequality. The balance in Scripture between praise and lament is lost in the ethos and worldview of American evangelical Christianity with its dominant language of praise. Any theological reflection that emerges from the suffering "have-nots" can be minimized in the onslaught of the triumphalism of the "haves."

What do we lose as a result of this imbalance? America Christians that flourish under the existing system seek to maintain the existing dynamics of inequality and remain in the theology of celebration over and against the theology of suffering."

Soong-Chan Rah, The Prophetic Lament p. 23

 

(I'm thankful for books that make you sit straight up on your couch and shout AMEN! at the cat)

 

 

 

day 27

at first I hated the advent wreath Krispin made so many years ago (tiny, made out of cardboard and covered with paper and glitter) but now I love it. I love how wonky it is. I love how we can never find candles to fit it because he made it himself. I love how he tries so hard to get our daughter to care about passages in Isaiah. I love how earnest he is in his belief that a kingdom of Love is coming. In his belief that we will always have prophets telling people to stop running away from God, in his belief that one day all of our tears shall be wiped away.

We blow out the candle. How long, O Lord?

Another Post On Advent

 

The last thing the world needs is another depthless post on Advent. This doesn't mean our world doesn't need a bit of good news about light entering into the darkness--no, we sure could still use that. But we surely don't need another post yammering on about expectation and longing, all self-contained and individualized, ignoring the fact that a large portion of humanity is suffering terribly right now--that people are hungry for freedom and justice, ready for the systems of oppression to fall now. All people have to lose is their chains. And they are tired of waiting.

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I had the absolute privilege to hear Dr. William Barber preach a sermon. Me, white girl from the NW, sitting in front of the leader of the Moral Mondays civil resistance movement, a man who so believes in Jesus--that he came to preach good news to the poor, the sick, and the sad--that he he cannot stop preaching--even when he is the general assembly for the state of North Carolina and it gets him arrested. 

Dr. Barber pointed out that the birth of Jesus involves mourning. Not just holy longing, but gasping, painful sorrow. Matthew 2 quotes Jeremiah:

 

“A voice was heard in Ramah,

weeping and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

she refused to be comforted,

because they are no more.”

 

This isn't the song we like to sing at Christmas, but it is one that too many already know by heart. It is hard for me not to think of Trayvon, Mike Brown, Eric Garner in this words. It is hard for me not to think of all of my refugee friends, so many of their families devastated by war and death. So many people in our churches and communities with empty seats at the table--people taken from us by addictions, broken relationships, unjust systems, or the plain old evil of death. 

 

For so many people, they are living in Ramah, that is their reality. And this Advent, they are never far from my mind.

 

All of these things and more have made it impossible for me to just write another post about Advent. So instead I wrote about how tired I am of waiting, and what my Somali friends have taught me in regards to this. Click on over to read it. 

 

 

Christmas in 4 movies

Merry Christmas Eve, ya'll!

I wrote an essay on Christmas for Christ and Pop Culture. Of course I talk about advent, Home Alone, and the Abominable Snowman. I can't really think of another publication that would let me write about all three.

Truly, the best part of this essay is that Seth T. Hahne made an illustration for it. You can check out more of his work at goodokbad.

 

Here is the image (which I am now going to send to everyone in my family--Merry Christmas, guys!):

 

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So, see if you can guess which 4 movies I use to illustrate my changing perspective on the Christmas Season. And then go here to read the entire essay.

 

Also, my amazing friend Amy Lepine Peterson wrote her own essay on Christmas and movies. It is much smarter and better written than mine, and is also in the same issue of Christ and Pop Culture. You can read that one (which talks more about White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life) here.

 

Happy reading, and happy Home Alone-watching. 

 

 

 

 

a city not forsaken

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this morning i rushed around, putting on make-up, pinning bobby pins in my hair, trying to finish a batch of brownies for the potluck today. i wrestled my ferociously opinionated daughter into her christmas dress, desperately tried to smooth her hair into pigtails. there were a few time-outs, a few threats of no cookies after church. the husband was out snow blowing, we all barely made it to church in time.

in the car, i find out that the wife of my friend and editor has passed away this morning. her battle with cancer was swift and vicious and it knocks the breathe out of me, strips away the illusions we build up about life and fairness and invincibility. she had a daughter, only a year older than mine. i sit in the car and cry and cry. my husband takes my daughter in and gets her dressed in her little lamb costume.

the pageant is chaotic, a gentle fiasco, my daughter refuses to sing and stands with her back to the congregation. i, like the other mothers of the young, have to stand on stage too, am in this pageant myself. we get through it, all mumbles and grins. the children race down the aisle so they can go to the nursery room and play with toys. they are only pretending to be gentle little lambs. was it a disaster? i don't really know. but i can't help but think that it is exactly how jesus would have wanted it to be: defiant three year olds, scared two year olds, exuberant babies, awkward middle schoolers, tired and grateful mothers. let the little children come to me, he said, and this morning my church embodied that.

there is a baptism, later, after the pageant. the light streams down through the stained glass and i can't believe what all takes place in this beat-up, broken down city of mine. people die. people get married. people drink gallon after gallon of vodka, alone in their apartments. little children dress up like lambs and march down the church aisle, proclaiming jesus is born. people make casseroles and brownies and eat them together at card tables. people get baptized into something far bigger than themselves, others come and embrace them into it.

I've read the gospels every December of my life and I know that story like a glossy picture book. but now i am reading Isaiah, who foretold that story and highlighted the necessity of why it had to be. here it is that i am finding the story of the new city, the one in which a little child shall lead us all. this passage takes on new meaning as one who lives surrounded by refugees--people who have lost everything, all the fruits of their life vanished. God sees it all, and a new day is dawning. one where we cannot escape how loved and redeemed we are, one where we finally know our true names. 

On your walls, O Jerusalem,
    I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
    they shall never be silent.
You who put the Lord in remembrance,
    take no rest,
and give him no rest
    until he establishes Jerusalem
    and makes it a praise in the earth.
The Lord has sworn by his right hand
    and by his mighty arm:
“I will not again give your grain
    to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners shall not drink your wine
    for which you have laboured;
but those who garner it shall eat it
    and praise the Lord,
and those who gather it shall drink it
    in the courts of my sanctuary.”
10 Go through, go through the gates;
    prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway;
    clear it of stones;
    lift up a signal over the peoples.
11 Behold, the Lord has proclaimed
    to the end of the earth:
Say to the daughter of Zion,
    “Behold, your salvation comes;
behold, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense before him.”
12 And they shall be called The Holy People,
    The Redeemed of the Lord;
and you shall be called Sought Out,
    A City Not Forsaken.

(Isaiah 62)

 

the best days are the ones where i know what it is that i am doing. i am preparing the way for the new city. i am moving the debris, one christmas pageant at a time. i am clearing the rubble, prayer by prayer. i am building up the highway, with every christmas carol sung into the air. but still--living in the old city, i long for the new. i get more desperate for it, the more the old one fails me.

the new city is coming; on days like today, it feels so close i can even see it shimmer. 

 

 

 

Advent in the Abandoned Places of the Empire

url My writing always goes in waves--just like this week.

Today I have a guest post up at my friend Amy Lepine Peterson's blog. She is currently in the midst of a series about Advent wherein she posts something every.single.day. I admire this girl, for so many reasons (intellect, quality writing, her amazing critiques of pop culture). But our friendship was cemented into soul mate statues due to her love of certain 90s era Christmas movies.

So I wrote a tiny post about Advent, cribbing from Common Prayer, naturally. Here is the passage I wrote off of:

Everything in our society teaches us to move away from suffering, to move out of neighborhoods where there is high crime, to move away from people who don’t look like us. But the gospel calls us to something altogether different. We are to laugh at fear, to lean into suffering, to open ourselves up to the stranger. Advent is the season when we remember Jesus put on flesh and moved into our neighborhood. God’s getting born in a barn reminds us that God shows up even in the forsaken corners of the earth.

Head on over and read the rest?

 

 

Image by Amy Friend, found via Pinterest. Just made me think about how Jesus is the light and the incarnation, never me.

Waiting for Advent

i'm the christmas unicorn-felt ornament. December is creeping along. The midwest does not have as much snow as I would have thought; I wish it did, for snow seems magical and new.

We are several months into our move, several months in to this new way of life. We have learned so much. My brain might explode. Someday, it would be lovely to talk about some of it with you all. But I am still young and tend to sound angry when I rant, so I will let these things keep percolating. Also, I have been realizing lately more than ever, that we are playing the long game here.

This is the first year I feel like the word "Advent" is starting to make sense. For the past several years I have been wandering around December, adoring every kitschy light display there is, and then complaining about how I just want to get back to the true meaning of Christmas. This year, many of our safety nets have been stripped. Without family and friends (and our annual Christmas parties--last year was themed "A Tender Tennessee Christmas Party" and we encouraged everyone to dress up like their favorite CCM star from the 90s) it feels sort of like . . . a winter month. Another week, another head cold, another blustery day. I find small comfort in the fact that for the majority of people in our neighborhood, they feel the same way. It is not all hot cocoa and marshmallows, gift-guides, warm fuzzies over here. It's another season of getting by.

But I feel the wait, this year. I have the space the feel the bleak midwinter, and I am grateful. It has given me the clarity about Christmas I have long wished for. I long to see Jesus and his kingdom come. As tempting as it is for me to think about Jesus coming to save the rest of the world from their brokenness, I have been both shamed and thrilled to realize he came for my own darkness. As I am spending this time waiting, I am encouraged: may the light of Christ rise up in my soul, may he cause me to see his light in others.

I would love to end this post on that dramatic, soulful note (I kid, I kid), but later on in this week I will be sharing some of my favorite Christmas movies and music with ya'll. I am still very much not into gifts-you-can-buy-at-a-regular-ol-store, but there are elements of celebrating Christmas here in America that I am hell-bent on redeeming. Horribly ugly and thoughtful crafts, treats baked with butter love, engaging all of our senses in this period of hope and expectation . . . now THAT I can get into. I'll also highlight some friends of mine who are churning out thoughtful (and thought-provoking) pieces about this season.

So hit me up: what are you doing as you wait for Advent?

Ps. That awesome ornament was found here on Etsy. But, poor you, it's sold out. So make your own! And give it to me.

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