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Advent 1

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The days are long. The nights are even longer. The anxiety overwhelming. The worry palpable. And yet, Sunday we light a candle; a candle we name Hope. We call it by this name because we have come to understand that what we see isn't all that is, and what we think we know is far from everything. We are called to live into the promise this small flame represents; living as if in a world of not yets. And so the season of waiting begins in Hope. -bshivers

The Difficulty of Giving Thanks

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In the midst of thanksgiving, let us not forget that there are those for whom giving thanks is incredibly difficult. For many, this is a season of acute sadness and a deep sense of melancholy not one of celebration. This is not because of a spirit of ingratitude or some lack of faith. It is really not the result of any one thing. It just is.  There is no need to try to remind them of all they "should" be thankful for. There is no need for another pithy meme or "meaningful" quote about the transformative power of being thankful. There is no need to try to cheer them up.  As much as we would like to think our well-meaning efforts are helpful, they really aren't. No matter how sincere they are, they can result in more feelings of inadequacy.  So what is one to do? That's the thing. There is nothing to do . Because no one needs to be "fixed" or have their perspective changed. Instead, this season, commit yourself to  be present with them in thoughtful

I Need Advent

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I must confess, it is really tempting to run headlong into the Christmas season this year. I mean, who doesn't want more light, more joy-filled music, more decorations, more "tidings of comfort and joy"?  The world feels so heavy right now. There days are shorter, yet somehow each one seems to last forever. Every 24 hours is full of more Covid cases, more hospitalizations, and more death. The news cycle is an incessant metronome of infection numbers, overburdened systems, and political drama. And yet simultaneously, each day seems to be an almost exact carbon copy of the day before, and the one before that, and the one before that, and the one before . . . Yes, we all desire the "good news of great joy for all the people". I know I do. However, what I think I really need this year is Advent. I need the waiting. I need the liminal space of the almost but not yet. I need the anticipation of something new. I need it because that is exactly where I am living every s

Miseducation of White Supremacy

This is another example of what White supremacy looks like, what it does, and what it continues to do.  I grew up in Indiana, a state literally named after the indigenous people who originally lived on this land. I have always lived in Indiana. I currently live in a city that is named “city of Indians” - Indianapolis. There are cities, towns, and historic sites that dot the landscape of this state (not unlike many other states in the United States) bearing the names of the first nation peoples who lived here, grew crops here, raised children here, died here, and were buried here - Mississinewa, Muncie, Salamonie, Miami, Mishawaka, Delaware, Wawasee to name a few.  As a part of our elementary and middle school education, every child in Indiana takes obligatory classes and units of study the history of Indiana. During these classes and units, we are taught how Indiana became a state, what role the citizens of Indiana played during important moments in the history of the United States, cr

Unpacking Stories

We create a universe every time  we tell ourselves,  we tell one another,  we tell our children, we are told a story. Our examination of the stories heard, overheard, created, told, must be deep  and may even cause us discomfort. Let us ask our stories, our storytellers, our selves these questions and more.  Who are the protagonists? Who are the enemies? What are the worlds that are  built,  defended,  reformed,  destroyed? What is the quest? Who comes out the victor? Who dies  at the hands of the conquering hero, at the hands of the dominant culture? Who “needed” to be “saved”? Who is the “savior”? Where do we discover self within the narrative arc? What are the stories  behind the stories  that inform the stories we tell, that inform the stories we are told? What are the mythologies  that are called truths  embedded in our psyches and hidden in our stories? And then  we must not fail to follow each question with a necessary why. If we are to grow, to understand self, to learn our emb
What is it that frightens you so? The color of his skin? The ambition of her spirit? The depth of their soul? A reality you can never understand? A truth you will never live? A love you cannot fathom? Why take what is not yours? Why deny others the possibility of being fully alive? Why destroy the opportunity to thrive? Or is it you? Is it you that you are running from? Is it you that ultimately frightens you most? -bshivers 

My Team, My Friends, and a Racist Welcome

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I grew up in Marion, Indiana. Even though I haven't lived there for over 30 years, I still call this Central Indiana town home. One of my favorite parts about growing up in Marion was the opportunity to play organized sports from a very young age - PAL Club basketball, T-ball, and flag football. But in Marion, basketball has always been and likely forever will be king! Hoosier Hysteria can be seen in all of its glory in Bill Green Athletic Arena. Even the water tower used to list all of the State Basketball Championships won reminding one and all of what was of ultimate importance. I often say that the most prominent tree in Marion was the basketball goal. Every block had at least two or three. It seemed as if every little girl and every little boy grew up dreaming of one day becoming a Marion Giant donning the purple and gold. Before I got to Marion High School, I went to McCulloch Junior High from 1980 through 1983. Our mascot was the Bears, and our school colors were purple, gol