December 1 Advent Reflection
Reflection by Elise Anderson
M.Div Student at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12: 4-7
While this text is typically read in the season of Epiphany I feel that it speaks to how we are called to God’s work in the world at any time. With the state of our world it is easy to feel hopeless and to wonder what we can do, where can we turn, will it be enough. As we enter this 2016 Advent season we are faced with a world that many do not recognize; our forests are burning in the southeast, the people of the Midwestern plains are facing an oil pipeline tearing apart their sacred lands, our political system is in shambles, and hatred seems to be at an all time high. It would be easy to allow the darkness to close in on us, to say there isn’t anything we can do to fight this force and the bad parts of our world. We feel that it is all on us to make changes, to do it all, and to do it quickly. But that simply isn’t the case. As we see in these verses in 1 Corinthians we have all been blessed with a variety of gifts and talents that serve the same God and the same world. It can be easy to forget that even the smallest good creates a light that starts to drive out even the greatest darkness.
Advent is a time of waiting and of preparation; we are waiting not just for the celebration of the arrival of the infant Jesus but also the second coming of the resurrected Jesus. Waiting can be tough, especially when things seem hopeless, but we know that waiting does not mean inaction, this is where we see the importance of preparation, of putting our skill-sets to good use.
At my seminary we focus on the idea of public church; this means many things to many people but in the most general sense it is the idea that the church’s place is out in the world, engaging with communities and working towards a better world. The beauty is there is no wrong answer to God’s call in our lives or ways the church can work for positive change in the world. The key for our success as the Body of Christ is to recognize that to be a functional body we need to recognize and appreciate every part and its abilities. We need the legs that march for justice, the hands that care for the poor and feed the hungry, the ears that listen for the needs of the world, the eyes that see the beauty of the world and all of creation, the mind that discerns the needs of the community, and the heart that is full of compassion and understanding for all of God’s people.
During this time of preparation we can remember that every gift, skill, and passion given to us by God is a gift to the whole world. Whether we are the legs that march or the hands that give we are of value because no matter the gift or the action it is something that makes the entire Body of Christ a more functional being. So we would be wise to remind ourselves that no act of kindness is too small, no work of justice is ineffective, and no amount of love is unwanted. With this in mind let us all continue to wait and to prepare.
Elise Anderson is a second year M.Div. student at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), where she serves as the student coordinator for LSTC's Public Church Fellowship Program. Originally from Evanston, IL, Elise attended Florida State University, where she studied athletic training. She also holds a Masters in Sports Medicine from Georgia State University.
Elise is recognized as part of the New Faces of Ministry program. To read her complete bio, click here.
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) is located in Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. LSTC's Public Church Fellows program provides full-tuition scholarships for students who have a passion for social justice and service. To learn more about LSTC or the Public Church Fellows program, visit their website at http://www.lstc.edu/.
LSTC is recognized as a part of the Seminaries that Change the World Class of 2016-17.