December 4, 2014

Dear Lakeshore,

By the time you receive the Transmitter the second Sunday of Advent will be near. Our theme this year is “One Candle Is Lit.” The carol of the same title by Mary Anne Parrott begins beautifully and memorably, “Come surely, Lord Jesus, as dawn follows night, our hearts long to greet you, as roses, the light. Salvation, draw near us, our vision engage, One candle is lit for the hope of the age.”

Each Sunday of the season there will be beautiful music and a timely word from the Gospel of Luke. On December 14 we will read Luke 1:39-56.in which Mary, upon learning of her role in the salvation of humanity, traveled alone from Nazareth, to the home of her cousin Elizabeth in the Judean hill country. Like many of the children that fled Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador this summer, Mary was an unaccompanied minor. One of this summer’s unaccompanied minors, and an Oakland resident guardian, will be our guests in the worship and at the Forum.

With President Obama taking action to protect many of the undocumented immigrants currently in the United States from deportation immigration is both the focus of much national debate and the cause of much incendiary speech. I like what The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, the President of the North Carolina NAACP, said following President Obama’s speech on November 20th.

Last night, President Obama did something else that was very powerful. He framed his message and his position in the moral language of the Scriptures, 2 Our Life Together…concluded H. James Hopkins which say that we are to treat the stranger with dignity and to insure that the stranger – or the immigrant –has the same rights as his brothers and sisters. Or as Jesus said, we must do right by the least of these.

After the President spoke, I heard an angry commentator say the President had no constitutional basis for his Order so he was forced to use a mere “Moral Argument.” Lord, have mercy on us. Our current immigration ‘system’ is immoral. Not treating people with dignity is immoral. Calling fellow members of the human race “aliens” is immoral.

Also much in the news is the decision of the grand jury in Ferguson, MO not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown Jr. The biblical language of lament is the response most fitting in this situation. To name the deep pain felt by the Brown family, by many in Ferguson and the nation, is to provide the context in which justice and hope can take form, the setting in which God’s will can be more truly known.

Lament is also a fitting response to the discomfort many people feel during the holiday season. The societal word is “It is the best time of the year. You must be happy.” The word of the church is “Jesus was born into a world of pain. You are thus free to acknowledge your pain in the season of his birth.” The “Blue Christmas” worship service sponsored by our Grief and Loss Ministry, Sunday afternoon December 21 at 2:30, will provide a place for such expression. Please avail yourself of this opportunity and share the invitation with some who might benefit from such a service.

One Candle Is Lit,

Jim H.