December 23 - The Waiting Game
Reflections by Antonia Coleman and Kenji Kuramitsu, Students at McCormick Theological Seminary
Reflection by Antonia Coleman
My birthday is 7 days before Christmas. I used to dread this time of the year because there was no attention on me. How dare friends and family forget my presence and solely focus on the greatest story ever told?
To appease me, my parents waited until after December 18th to put up decorations and speak anything of Christmas. So, with no talk of presents and lists, that gave me time to focus on what this time really meant.
The one, who is to set captives free, close paths to misery, and ransom humankind, is coming. We are to be happy and ecstatic that the One With Us, will be with us; to bring to all of creation hope.
My heart is yet troubled.
I carry the cries of my sisters in Aleppo wailing over the lifeless bodies of families dying in from showers of bombs. My throat is parched for the lack of water needed to grow necessary food in order for my sisters in Palenque to be self-sustaining. My sisters in Flint, MI still bathe in waters intended for their demise.
Even in that, I yet have hope. Hope that one day, the One With Us will arise in the hearts of humanity to ransom the captives of capitalism, racism, sexism and ageism. Though I still wait to put up decorations, I keep my heart yearning with expectation for hope in Emmanuel. In that expectation, I find joy.
Waiting out in Exhile
Reflection by Kenji Kuramitsu
I had a dream last night that we were back in camp. Me, my father, my grandfather, my cousins, aunties and family friends, all of us back in camp. In my entire life I've never dreamed of camp. I wasn't there. Neither were most of my living family. But there we were – sitting on piecemeal wooden furniture, happily Japanese and American, somehow back in camp.
I had this dream after a beautiful dinner with a friend that I had to slog through miles of frozen roads to see. Have you ever driven at night with your headlights off by mistake? Most everyone you pass by on the road flashes their own car lights at you, reminding you: wake up! Turn on your lights! It’s dangerous out here!
Having political views that are widely validated as unpopular sometimes makes for an isolating social existence. I'm sure the people who flash their lights and I on my way through the suburbs of the north shore, we wouldn't agree on all that much ideologically. But we look out for each other still, stretching out beams of light to say, hey, your wellbeing matters to me.
I find it difficult to speak a word of hope this season into circumstances which seem to defy any sense that the universe is on a long and preordained arc, bending towards justice. Last month a plurality of whites in our country chose to validate the campaign and racist values of the most explicitly violent Presidential candidate in recent history. Last week our city of Chicago continued to fill young people with bullets in record numbers, even amidst winter chill. Last night I was reminded of all this very acutely when I met a woman of color whose son was killed by gun violence this fall. This morning I awoke scared from a half-remembered dream surely sparked by recently emboldened nationalistic and racist rhetoric.
Where is God in light of these longwinded histories of death?
I don't know. I am of the belief that we must, in the times when God seems silent, honor the pregnant possibility of our world by lending tendrils of light to one another, like cars of strangers passing reminders of hope to each other in the night. We must be open to inconvenience our sureness to disclose a bit of ourselves to the other, with tenderness.
I have thought about this before. This is one way of building bridges with those who live in different worlds than us, whether the chasms which separate are primarily based upon geography, ideology, religion, or class. Now more than ever, we are called to a posture of hope. This is a burden that cannot be primarily placed upon groups experiencing the most bitterness and violence as we approach this very White Christmas, but we're tangled up in this all the same.
Antonia Coleman is a student at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. Before coming to seminary, Antonia helped to create a CDC to bring community gardens to the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago. She's been active in the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and is an active member of McCormick's Seminarians for Justice. Antonia is recognized this year as one of the New Faces of Ministry: 2016-17. To learn more about her, view her full New Faces of Ministry bio.
Originally from Glenview, IL, Kenji attended University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana where he studied social work and Spanish. Kenji currently serves on the board of the Reformation Project, a direct-action nonprofit that works to empower LGBTQ persons in the church. He is also on the national board of the Japanese American Citizens League, the largest and oldest Asian American human rights group in the US. Antonia is recognized this year as one of the New Faces of Ministry: 2016-17. To learn more about Kenji's work, visit Kenji's New Faces of Ministry bio.
About McCormick Theological Seminary
Located in the Hyde Park area of Chicago's Southside, McCormick Theological Seminary is a place where students are encouraged and supported to live out their faith in action. With an emphasis on service and social justice, McCormick houses The Center for Faith and Service and offers a number of degree programs and opportunities for students who are interested in and committed to social justice causes.
McCormick Theological Seminary is recognized as one of this year's Seminaries that Change the World. To learn more about McCormick, visit their website at www.McCormick.edu, or view their Seminaries that Change the World profile.