Tidings of Comfort and Joy: An Advent of Making
Faith can be a comfort and a struggle. It is, if we let it, always making something new of us. Faith pushes us to question what we think we know. It pulls us beyond who we think we are.
Join facilitator Sheri Brown this Advent to explore what faith is making of you this Advent season … and to practice making a few gifts for the world in response. Our Advent of Making will be a season of making peace, making hope, making comfort, and making joy.
There will be NO stitching, knitting, painting, or woodworking involved, except in a metaphorical sense. In Tidings of Comfort & Joy, gifts will be crafted with the tools each participant brings to the sessions – a willing body, an open heart, a curious mind, and oh yes, a hunger to grow in awareness of and appreciation for God’s goodness and grace.
Advent gift-making sessions will include readings, body movement, contemplation, and conversation. Each session will focus on a specific gift, with participants expected to design and commit to their own gift-making practice for the coming week.
Be not just hearers of the word, but also makers of the word.James 1:22
“Be not just hearers of the word,” counsels James 1:22, “but also makers of the word.” The author of James uses the Greek poieō, the first meaning of which, according to Thayer’s Lexicon, is not DO as commonly translated but MAKE, as in …
- to produce, construct, form, fashion, etc.
- to be the authors of, the cause
- to make ready, to prepare
- to produce, bear, shoot forth
- to acquire, to provide a thing for one’ s self
- to make a thing out of something …
- … (and so on and so forth.)
Disclaimer: Each participant’s making will be a masterpiece, albeit somewhat flawed. These unique imperfections should in no way affect the function of the gift.
Making Peace, first week of Advent
We’re hard-wired with everything we need to handle stress. Trouble is, after nearly three years in a world gone topsy-turvy, our nerves are frazzled. Most of us are more tired than we realize. Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord, that we may walk in the path of peace (and quiet)!
Making Hope, second week of Advent
“Lift up your hearts!”
“We lift them, Lord, to thee.”
Or maybe we can’t just yet, heavy as our hearts are with loss, with lament. And yet, writes Cole Arthur Riles, “Lament IS a form of hope. It is an innate awareness that what is should not be.” Perhaps we can make hope only as much as we can make lament. Let’s find out.
Making Comfort, third week of Advent
Addiction is a terrible disease. We all know someone who is addicted to alcohol or other drugs, to sex, to work. What we often don’t realize is how addicted WE are to our own patterns of discontent, to a mindset that makes us unhappy. “Most people,” said Abraham Lincoln, “are as miserable as they make up their minds to be.” Making comfort is learnable. But it’s probably the hardest gift to master because, well, addiction to making ourselves miserable is a terrible disease.
Making Joy, fourth week of Advent
To work from the inside out, as we have practiced doing through this series, is to practice noticing where the Christ is finding room to enter in. We complete our series marveling at how this cradle of chaos – our lives! the world! – is the place where God chooses to dwell, seeking to make in and with us a sanctuary of peace, hope, comfort, and yes, even joy.
About your facilitator
Sheri Brown is a retired special education teacher, news reporter, and video producer who has written liturgy, poems, and reflections for nearly 15 years. Her writing has been described as “sometimes raw but always real,” and as a “fresh perspective on old words”. Her writings, when she writes, are distributed to an email group under the heading, From the Edge of the Inside. (The reason for that obtuse self-descriptor became clear when she learned she is a healthy 4 during an Enneagram retreat at Spirit in the Desert this year.)
Sheri and spouse, ELCA pastor Kirk Anderson (retired), live near Prescott, AZ. With the kids grown and gone, Sheri and Kirk delight in being Airbnb Super Hosts. Sheri is also an avid DIY-er and a walking enthusiast. She walked her way to wellness in 2018 after losing mobility and identity from a physical assault while teaching. In addition to developing Tidings of Comfort & Joy, she has led contemplative retreats via zoom for both Advent and Lent in recent years and currently facilitates the monthly Spirited Book Club discussion for Spirit in the Desert (also on zoom).