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  • Writer's pictureStoried Church

written by Kiah Gaskin

Vulnerable God

Fragile, naked baby

We confess that the sign we often seek is not one of weakness

but of power:

Power that promises to maintain our image of you

as the only one that matters

Word made flesh

Lamp to our feet

We confess that the sign we often seek is not one of mystery

but of answers:

Answers that perpetuate our dependence on the status quo

by silencing the stories of the unexpected

Help us to see through your birth a child

as in need of relationship as us

That we might make room at our tables for the stranger

That we might make room in our hearts for you


writer David Gaddy

This week, I get the opportunity to blog about Joy. However, I do not know if I can. I do not know if I want to. Thank God Storied Church came into my life and I have been doing the social media for this Advent season. Otherwise, I would have ignored it.

You see, I lost my dad in May. I was okay for a little bit after his death. It had been coming for a while (15 years to be exact) so I was prepared for the moment.

What I was not prepared for was the after. Months after, I am not okay. I miss him. In many ways he was my moral compass. He was one of my best friends. So, this year I am not very holly jolly and cozy toasty.

If you are with me in those feelings, then hear me when I type this next line:

it is okay NOT to have all the Christmasy feels!!!

However, I would challenge you not to stay stuck. For a long time, I reminded students of this fact:

Happiness is temporary feeling, joy is an eternal gift.

I can be happy over pizza, blue box mac-n-cheese, and Krispy Kreme. However, those feelings run out. However, joy is something you can keep in your mind and think about all the time. My wife and kids make me joyful. My career makes me joyful. My memories of my dad make me joyful.

I suppose I should throw some Jesus on this. We often think of Jesus as Divine and forget the Humanity. Advent also can remind us of not only our humanity but that of Jesus too. We see that Jesus FELT that deep sadness of losing a friend and John 11:35 says Jesus wept. Even though he brought his friend back to life, I am willing to bet that those feelings were imprinted on his heart and came back when he crossed others amid their pain. However, we read that Jesus found his joy in the conversations with others and serving them. His haters even saw his overabundance of joy and called him drunk (Luke 7:34).

This season, may you realize that happiness and even sadness are temporary. If you are a Jesus follower, be reminded that it is okay to feel. But take a note from Jesus and find the things that bring you joy. Real, long lasting, joy. If you are skeptical, may you know that our community embraces that and celebrates that. I challenge you to find joyous things too!!

There is a celebration called Blue Christmas that I helped lead in my days of ministry. It is for those of us who have lost a loved one, a job, a marriage, or some other loss, either recently or long ago. It is a service to acknowledge the pain and emptiness, but to also do that with a community of people. One prayer that you can find to use concludes the service:

Advent prayer for Joy

Another day will come, O God. I do not know what it may bring, but make me ready, God, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, help me do it joyfully. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Your Peace. Amen.

  • Writer's pictureStoried Church

Writer M. Leslie Snyder Eaves

drawn by Leslie Eaves

I vividly remember the month before I gave birth to my wonderful, smart, sassy daughter. I felt like a gliding whale. Sleep became illusive. No comfortable position existed, or when it did, my bladder had other plans. Yet, in quiet moments, when I felt her hiccup or move, I realized the time was fast approaching when she would no longer belong to me but belong to the world. Having a child is an act of hope. In this chaotic world, we seek to bring forth life and through that life hope for a better future.

I have always loved this time of Advent, this time of waiting and expectation. This time of contemplation and wonderment of what is to come. After becoming a mother, I can’t help but think about Mary and wonder what expectations and wonderings went through her head. What thoughts kept her up at night? What hopes did she have as she grew the baby that would one day become Jesus, the Christ?

Sure, we know her child would grow up to me who John the Baptist referred to as, “The one of who the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight… I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3: 11, NRSV)

To Mary, though, in this time before Jesus came into the world, He was her hope. Maybe her hope for redemption, for love, for acceptance. Maybe her hope for a world free from oppression. Or maybe a hopeful living prayer for an everlasting peace as the Psalmist proclaims, “In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.” (Psalm 72: 7, NRSV)

We will not all experience birth in the literal sense; however, we all have aspects of our lives where we may want to give birth to something… An idea made real, a change we want to see in the world or our lives, or maybe something more tangible like novel or even a new church.

During this Advent season I urge you to take some time away from the hustle and rush of expectations and listen for that “still small voice” whispering to you. What is your hope for the future?

What might you have been uniquely created to birth into this world? And when this thought or idea sparks within your heart, how will you prepare to make this change?

I leave you with the words of Paul, “May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15: 5, NRSV)

Prayer for the Second Week of Advent

Lord we come to you with open hearts and open minds during this time of preparation and contemplation.

We hope for a better future;

We hope for healing for all who have been hurt;

We hope for a peace for all;

We hope for that all may experience your profound love without judgement or shame.

Help us to see what we may do to bring about this vision of hope

Here we are Lord, ready to hold your people in our hearts.


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