Dear Friends,

This academic semester has provided CRCDS with many moments for which to give thanks. We are grateful for the ways in which zoom technology allows us to gather in community for chapel, small group conversations, community dialogues, town halls, and so much more. Each note, call, e-mail, and gift we received, is a blessed reminder that you are journeying with and praying for us. Faculty, staff, and students continue to adapt to the uncertainty of this moment through their use of technology and creative exploration of learning modalities and approaches to informed engagement.

As we pause to give thanks and ask for forgiveness to the harm with which indigenous people in this country contend, as we move towards the first Sunday in Advent, I find an imperative in Psalm 122 to seek good not evil (particularly when evil seems to be so prevalent) a cautionary reminder to pursue / to represent that which is just. For some seeking good may require examining harmful practices and choosing alternative ways of being in relationship with self and others. There are some who may be compelled to speak / write with a sense of urgency and keen awareness that theological claims can cause devastating harm to the most vulnerable in our world. There are those who may be required to engage in a process of purging that may call them to question religious practices that are little more than narcissistic self-indulging exercises.

I find myself challenged always during this season of remembrance to consider how a retelling of a birth narrative must always be attentive to political realities. This year, as we mourn collectively the deaths of 250k+ in the United States alone from COVID-19, weep for children and parents separated from each other with minimal hope of reunification, wonder when financial and other forms of assistance will be provided to persons who live daily with consequences of decisions made to slow the spread of virus that has infected millions, I invite you to consider how a critical engagement with Isaiah 40:1 and historical accounts and contemporary issues may inform the manner in which we encourage and comfort people who are most effected by political inaction that disregards the full humanity of one too many of its citizens.

During this Advent season, may we receive hope filled liberating messages as an invitation to examine ourselves so that we may indeed seek good and not evil. As we each engage in a process of deep honest self-examination may we remember that Advent is a time of deep expectation even, and perhaps especially, in the midst of so much deceit and evil. This moment in the life of the church is a time of deep longing for a people / a community who believe that renewal and restoration are always a possibility. For this hope, we give thanks.

Rev. Angela D. Sims, Ph.D.