"It is now time for us to rise from sleep."
—The Rule of St. Benedict
Beloved in Christ,
When I moved to Minnesota, I was prepared for the cold weather. I love winter, and if anything, my experience so far has disappointed my hopes and expectations. What I was not prepared for is the dark. It gets dark earlier here than anywhere I have ever lived, and the long darknesses each day were a real surprise to me last year.
Advent begins this Sunday. It is a time of entering more fully into the darkness, in order to more fully experience the joy of God's light. In many ways, the past two years in our world have been one long season of darkness. Just as the dark winter days can weigh down our spirits during this time of year, the darkness of pandemic, of systemic racism, of the countless small losses we've endured, have weighed down our spirits for sure.
But rather than simply numbing ourselves to the surrounding darkness, Advent is a call to wake up, to come alive, to allow God's spirit to once again infuse our spirits so that we can be part of shining the light of justice and love across a dark and cold landscape. At its worst, this season we've lived through can weigh us down and make us want to crawl back in bed, shutting out all that is painful and hard around us. At its best, this season is a wake up call from God; a call to wake up to a deeply imbedded racial injustice in our church and society; a call to wake up with a fresh experience of the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts; a call to wake up to our alignment with empire; a call to wake up from the anesthesia of scorn for those who differ from us; a call to wake up and surrender our lives over fully, again, to Jesus, and allow him to shape us in his more perfect image.
As we turn the page into a new church year, even as we enter into deeper darkness, pray that together, we might rise from sleep and be filled anew with the Spirit's power and love; that we might gather around the fire of friendship, shared purpose, love for God and one another; and that the fires we tend together might continue to draw all people together in love and hope, until God's glorious reign of love is done fully, on earth as it is in heaven.
Grace and peace,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya
Episcopal Church in Minnesota