Happy Second Sunday in Advent!
Last month I had a chance to get together with people of faith—from my own church, from neighboring communities, from throughout the Puget Sound area. We listened to a wonderful video by Alan Hirsch, an Australian author and missional leader. Wikipedia describes him as a “thought-leader.” He spoke of the five habits of highly missional people, using the acronym BELLS. I’d like to suggest ringing in Advent based on his BELLS. Alan talked about weekly habits, but I’m going to suggest ringing in love, joy, peace, and hope with daily habits. As Alan reminds us, those shared habits unite us as believers and propel us into the lives of others.
BELLS: B – E – L – L – S
Bless someone every day. Yes, every day. Alan speaks of blessing as a way to confer prosperity or happiness upon another, to build them up and fill them with encouragement.
The author, Anne Lamott, simply says, “Be kind. Be nice.” Share a compliment, a few words of encouragement, a smile.
Some of you who follow me on Facebook know that I’ve had my moments while waiting for service at the bank. A couple weeks ago I had to get another document notarized and this time waited not 30 minutes, but 50 minutes. Fifty. 5-0. No one greeted me. No one checked with me to see if someone else might be able to assist. I was pointed to a chair and without a word expected to wait my turn. As you would imagine, I had the entire bank branch reorganized, re-staffed, and redesigned within seven minutes, leaving the other 43 minutes to fuss and fume. When it came my turn, every part of me wanted to launch into a diatribe on respect, the value of my time, the importance of a simple greeting. With a little Divine intervention (yes, capital D!), I was able to smile and say, “You are one busy lady. Do you need to just catch your breath before we begin?” I went on to note that she appeared to be trying to get things done in an ever-changing workspace (they were remodeling) and said her days had to have been hectic, not knowing where her desk might be on any given morning. We laughed. We rolled our eyes together. We shared a brief moment of joy on a crazy afternoon. Be kind. Be nice.
Alright! you’re thinking. Now you’re talking. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about—food and drink, rich desserts and savory appetizers? Alan asks us to take that wonderful meal time and turn it into a time of hospitality. Story after story is included in the Gospels about Jesus sharing meals with his friends, his disciples, his followers. Sharing a meal is meaningful. The time together allows for shared ideas, shared experiences, shared love. Our celebration of Communion is in remembrance of Christ’s love—a meal when He gave His very body and blood for each one of us.
Friends, this time together is not about food—which is good, because some of us don’t cook. I will not invite you over to my house for dinner, because there is nothing in the freezer but frozen muffins and mini ice creams. Oh, and a few ice packs from knee surgery. Not long ago, we finished a great day of Thanksgiving. How many times did you think (or even say aloud), this is great! Just being together! The turkey was excellent, Grandma’s pies were perfect, but most important was the time together as friends and family. Hospitality.
Yes, bless those around you and share moments of hospitality. Together we prepare. Together we ring in the love, joy, peace, and hope of Christmas.
Still to come: L: LISTEN ~ L: LEARN ~ S: SENT
BELLS: B – E – L – L – S