Kelly Bates Oglesby is lead pastor of Parkview Mennonite Church in Kokomo, Indiana. She earned a Master of Divinity degree from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. She has Bachelor of Science in African American Studies, with minors in Women’s Studies and Sociology. Kelly has plans to pursue a Ph.D. ministerial leadership. Prior to connecting with Mennonite Church USA, she was ordained clergy and devoted leader in the Free Will Baptist Church. Kelly is active in many streams of ministry and you can follow her @kellyoglesby on Twitter or Facebook.
Read all Advent 2015 reflections.
Waiting. Painfully, hopefully waiting. The creation and created ones contort and writhe as the wait continues for us to come alive with faith and live out the purposes of God. Advent moans in laborious pain with each tragedy and contractions intensify from each act of violence and indifference to the very good work of God. Our futile rituals, systems and traditions do nothing to transform the afflictions created by our apathy.
Isaiah 12:1 (ERV): “I praise you, Lord! You have been angry with me, but don’t be angry with me now. Show your love to me. God is the one who saves me. I trust him, and I am not afraid. The Lord YAH is my strength. He saves me, and I sing songs of praise about him.”
It is easy to be lulled into living as though the Lord is our strength and help, and therefore we will await the glory of heaven and ignore the misery and cruelty of this present age. Yet, for me, it is impossible to proclaim Christ Jesus as my personal Savior and look away from the imperative for the love and light of Christ to become constant and true through my generosity and hospitality.
Terrorist attacks, climate chaos and xenophobic perspectives resound. Yet, I find myself raising the carols and hymns of praise. My testimony of the Lord’s goodness goes forth. I realize God was angry with me personally, and that Christ came to save me and bring me into fellowship. I open myself to cheerfully, generously and intentionally share. Scarcity no longer rules.
Believers in Christ must become alive with praise. Then we can rise above trouble and begin to transform the world.
In this season of Advent, we recall the birth of Christ: An event so transformative that those ordinary shepherds left their night watch after receiving the birth notice. When we received the notice of Christ alive in our spirits, did we realign our priorities and occupations to pursue Jesus? Do our spirits reverberate with praise?
This time is tumultuous. We can keep our balance and be a blessing to others when we recall that God is no longer personally angry with either you or I. God is now available to strengthen us. The strength we have from the Lord is everlasting; there is no scarcity. We need not hide behind pity that makes us feel better but fails to better others, because our strength flows from generosity rather than being grounded in scarcity. Scarcity evolves from fear, while generosity pours out from faith.
The drought of sharing and believing in God’s Word engrosses spiritual and social systems. Creation and created ones moan and groan in anticipation of Christ being birthed again in believers and drawing them away from the practices and occupations of scarcity and darkness.
My Advent hope is that I, along with whosoever will join, would become a living expression and example of light and love. May our praise be a generous gift to the world. Peacemaking is born in praise of the king of kings. Praise reorders our priorities, changes our plans and provokes us to love as we ourselves are loved. Praise prepares us to share the gospel and gently abide with one another.
Isaiah 12:3: You people will get your water from the spring of salvation. Then you will be happy. At that time you will say, “Praise the Lord and call out his name! Tell everyone what he has done and how wonderful he is.” Sing songs of praise about the Lord, because he has done great things. Spread this news about God throughout the whole world. Let all people know these things.
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