Friday, December 12, 2008


The holiday season is often cited as the most stressful time of the year for American adults. Among the reasons for this is the expectation that we purchase gifts for all our friends and family and then impress them with our behavior and appropriate attire. While giving gifts is a wonderful thing, due to the sheer volume involved, the cultural imperative to buy everyone different objects at the same time seems to result in mania and the exchange often meaningless presents that are given primarily to check someone off the shopping list. Advent becomes a whirlwind of activity and Christmas is turned into the day of collapse--the day when we see if we survived the self-imposed gauntlet.

This seems counterproductive to the message of Christmas, and especially counterproductive to the message of Advent. Advent, Latin for "coming" consists of the four weeks leading up to Christmas, "Christ's sending." It is a time of the days getting shorter. It is a time of reflection on the darkness the world and in our own lives. But in the midst of this, Advent is a time of waiting for the coming of God's promised hope in this world, the coming Christ, the light that is not overcome. Christmas is the celebration of the days getting longer, the celebration that future will be brighter than the past, the celebration that greatest power in the universe--love--is found in the form of a little baby. Christmas is a festival of new life.

Yes, giving gifts is a good way to celebrate new life. By let them be gifts born out of contemplation. Let them be gifts born out of a yearning for a brighter world. Let them be gifts which proclaim that God is not found in the palaces of kings, or the towers of merchants, but in the fragile form of human beings. Let them be gifts of Christ's sending.

Two websites that give advice on how this might actually happen: Advent Conspiracy and Alternatives for Simple Living.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent Coffeehouse

Every year during Advent, PLTS takes over the local coffee shop, Brewed Awakening, and celebrates the darknening of the world, the coming of Christ, and the immanent end of the semester through singing, storytelling, and lots of jokes.

Musical acts available for viewing by: Student Body President Chris, Nick, Kara and Jon, the Kirstens, Eric, and Holly, DC, and Doug.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Community Organizing and Lutherans

Two weeks ago, Rev. Lucy Kolin, a Lutheran pastor from Oakland, stood in front of Congress and, with the support of a thousand congregations across the country, asked Congress to prevent the foreclosure of 2 million homes.
How is it that a pastor from a small congregation on the west coast ended up leading a protest in Washington D.C. and being interviewed on CNN? Community Organizing.

A few years back the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Oakland started a listening campaign with the help of People Improving Communities Through Organizing (PICO), a community organizing network. The congregation discovered that its parishioners were deeply concerned by the fact that housing in Oakland was prohibitively expensive, meaning that parishioners were being forced to move away and the surrounding community was in a state of decline. With the realization that members of the congregation had a common cause, and grounded in the conviction that you can't serve your neighbor if you don't have any neighbors, the congregation began researching, conversing, and connecting, so that now their demands for affordable housing for all people have been heard by city officials all the way to United States Senators. All of this because they decided to listen to the concerns of the members of their congregation.