Garrett-Evangelical News

Sacred Citings

Sacred Citings is a monthly web-cation from the Garrett-Evangelical family to share our experiences of the sacred and divine with one another. Recognizing that seeing (sighting) the sacred and remembering (citing) the sacred through written meditation and reflection is interwoven with reverence and agape.

Advent Greetings from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
From Philip A. Amerson

Philip AmersonWe send you greetings and our warm best wishes as we enter the Advent Season. Advent is that remarkable time each year when we look to the future with expectancy. It is the beginning of a new Christian year. Each year through the liturgical seasons we rehearse again the biblical story of God's faithfulness.

In reflecting on this new season and the deep need for a message of hope and promise in our world, we have decided to send a monthly e-mail to the Garrett-Evangelical community, with messages from our alumni/ae and friends. Our prayer is that this will be a forum for inspiration and a reminder of the enduring presence of Emanuel, God-With-Us, during this season and throughout the months ahead.

As we begin, I share a word from Thomas Lane Butts of Monroeville, Alabama, GBI '57. This message, Looking for God?, is taken from his regular column, An Encouraging Word, prepared for the local Monroeville, Alabama newspaper.

Looking for God?

Those who are attentive to the liturgical calendar of the Christian Church know that we are now at the beginning of the Christian year. Last Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent-the beginning of the Christian year. The four Sundays preceding Christmas Day are Advent Sundays. During these four Sundays Christians are to prepare themselves for the Coming of the Christ-The Messiah. This does not mean that we are not to look for God in our world at any other time of the year. Advent gives special emphasis to something we believe is happening all the time. God comes to us in many ways all year long. We do not always recognize God's presence, but God is there. Former Roman Catholic Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, Michigan told the story of a reporter who observed food distribution following an earthquake in Ecuador. Here is the account of the event as shared in Untener's The Little Burgundy Book:

"The line was long but moving briskly and in that line at the very end stood a young girl about twelve years of age. She waited patiently as those at the front of that long line received a little rice, some canned goods or a little fruit. Slowly but surely she was getting closer to the front of that line. From time to time she would glance across the street. She did not notice the growing concern on the faces of those distributing the food. The food was running out. Their anxiety began to show but she did not notice. Her attention seemed always to focus on three figures under the trees across the street. At long last she stepped forward to get her food but the only thing left was one lonely banana. The workers were almost ashamed to tell her that was all that was left. She did not seem to mind. In fact she seemed genuinely happy to get that solitary banana. Quietly she took the precious gift and ran across the street where three small children waited. Perhaps her sisters and a brother. Very deliberately she peeled the banana and very carefully divided the banana into three equal parts, placing the precious food in the eager hands of those three younger ones. One for you, one for you, one for you. She then sat down and licked the inside of that banana peel. I swear I saw the face of God."

This reminded me of the woman at the Sojourner's community in Washington, DC who prayed before food distribution: "O Lord, we know you will be passing through this line today. Make us gracious servants whether we recognize you or not."

This is Advent. Are you looking?

--Thomas Lane Butts

Dr. Butts shares a simple story. It is one that causes us to ask hard questions about wealth and poverty. What does it mean when we pray "Give us this day our daily bread"? What of those around the world who have little daily sustenance. This also calls into question the callousness of wealthy nations like ours that are unable (unwilling) to provide food, shelter and basic care for all citizens. This causes us to wonder why we Christians are so silent about health care, unemployment and our tragic addiction to the violence of war. Why have we allowed food lines and perpetual war to be the norm? The story Tom Butts shares focuses finally on a generosity that comes at an unexpected time and in an unexpected way. It is this remarkable core instinct-to share with sister and brother-that will not be extinguished, even in the midst of a self-absorbed culture. It reminds us of God's gracious and abidingly generous action toward humanity.

Far from suggesting that people of God should stop sharing with those in need through the charity of food lines, this story reminds me of your witness. As those who were nurtured in the faith through Garrett-Evangelical, you know that even while we work for more just structures, we are still committed to small daily acts of love. This Advent I take great joy in the knowledge that, by the hundreds and thousands, you will be sharing the Good News of God's transforming love. You will be sharing food; you will be working to see that troubled souls are comforted; you will be providing health care and educating children. You will be working and praying to end war and reaching out to touch those with special physical, emotional or economic challenges. May you be blessed during this season - and may you catch a glimpse of the Eternal.

Subcategories

UMC Logo Garrett-Evangelical, a seminary related to
The United Methodist Church, welcomes
students from a wide range of faith traditions.