Like many pastors, I remember clearly the first sermon I ever preached. It was during my second semester of seminary, and I probably worked on it for 50 hours. Each detail was written and rewritten until I was confident I had produced the greatest theological document by a seminarian in quite some time.
Over the years I’ve taken part in some amazing celebrations. As a native Atlantan, I remember the moment in 1990 when we heard the announcement on the radio that the Summer Olympics were coming to our city. People began honking car horns and spontaneously hugging strangers in the streets.
I’m taking a class on the Gospel of Luke this semester, and
one of my assignments is to engage in an ongoing spiritual practice
related to that particular Gospel. So for the entire semester I am
reading the Magnificat daily. It’s a passage that I’ve been drawn to in
recent years, but it has been particularly illuminating to be dwelling
on it during Lent this year, since it is typically confined to the Advent
season. Somehow the triumphal language of the justice that God has
already accomplished fits with the modern treatment of Advent as a
celebratory season. But Lent is a season of penance, which puts an
entirely different spin on the text.
This month millions of families around the world will gather dutifully and joyfully for a traditional ritual meal. Around the edges of some of the more traditional gatherings—the ones where the chief chefs and hosts are grandparents or the age of grandparents—the siblings and cousins of the next-oldest generation will begin to talk together.