2023 Advent Newsletter - Hear from each of Harbor's Pastoral Team
Rev. Sadie Cullumber
Our theme for Advent this year is incredibly timely: how does a weary world rejoice? There is so much heaviness and so much weariness in all the world, and this has been the reality for as long as I can remember. When can we remember a time when we didn’t feel weary, burdened, overwhelmed, exhausted, worn down, burned out? It feels like it has been far too long.
It isn’t just our individual lives that are wearied and burdened, it is our collective lives that are also tired, exhausted and profoundly in need of Sabbath. Scripture speaks often of Sabbath. The Hebrew scriptures remind us that all the world is deserving of Sabbath–all the people, the animals, even the land deserves rest. One of the 10 commandments is to keep the Sabbath. Jesus also is witnessed taking times of Sabbath and rest in the stories of his life and ministry. And yet, we live in a world that almost completely ignores our God-ordained need and right to Sabbath.
Even within our faith communities, we often find ourselves frenzied and hurried and overburdened. So how do we respond to the weariness of the world and our own bodies while at the same time allowing ourselves to rejoice? This is a challenging question for many of us who have been raised in grind culture that continuously reminds us that we are only worth what we can produce. This is a challenging question for those of us who have lived inside of and have also benefited from an oppressive culture that squeezes some of us more violently than others. This is a challenging question for those of us who find ourselves so profoundly weary that it is difficult to even hold the vibration of rejoicing. And yet, this is our call.
We must acknowledge the weariness, and find joy in Sabbath. What does Sabbath look like for you?
This season, we will be exploring the ways that we can find Sabbath together and in solitude. We will remind ourselves that rest is resistance, as The Nap Bishop, Tricia Hersey, declares. In her revolutionary and also deeply restful book, Rest is Resistance she shares that the only way to resist this capitalistic, racist, and white supremacist culture that has us all forgetting our inherent belovedness, is to do the unthinkable: to rest. To find ways in our hectic lives to open ourselves up to our DreamSpace, to remember the moments of childhood when our daydreams surrounded us and held us, and to fiercely commit to our own liberation through rest.
I’m certain that our Lord Jesus would have found a dear friend in The Nap Bishop, Tricia Hersey. In fact, I’m certain that his gentle calls to Sabbath are part of what has inspired her in this phenomenal work around rest as resistance to the powers of the world that benefit from our collective suffering.
As we enter the season of Advent, let's find our rejoicing through deep rest.
Let’s do the things that give us joy, but let’s do them in a spirit of rest rather than a spirit of frenzy. And let’s remember that our bodies are sacred, and they deserve our patience and our tender care. I hope you’ll join me in reading this powerful invocation by Tricia Hersey each day. I also hope that you will purchase her book and commit to your own journey of liberation through rest.
Invocation by Tricia Hersey
artist, poet, theologian, community organizer
The doors of the Nap Temple are open.
Won’t you come?
This is an invitation for weary souls to rest.
This is a resistance.
This is a protest.
This is a counternarrative to the lie that our worth is tied to the grind of capitalism and the lie of white supremacy.
You are enough simply by being alive.
Thank you for living.
Thank you for resisting.
Thank you for creating.
Thank you for dreaming.
Thank you for resting.
We believe that our healing can visit us while we are napping.
While we are resting.
While we are sleeping.
While we are slowing down.
We believe that naps provide a dream and visioning space.
This is what resistance looks like.
Won’t you come?
This is a resistance.
This is a protest.
Amen and amen. Won’t you join me in resting from our weariness, as we open ourselves to deep rejoicing and thanksgiving for every single breath, every single moment, every single opportunity to declare ourselves and all the world as beloved?
In rest and resistance,
Rev. Ryan Cullumber
How does a weary world rejoice?
This is a profoundly difficult question to answer because the world has never been a place of peace and joy for all of God’s children. There are of course pockets of joy and peace to be found now and throughout history for the privileged few but often at the expense of the underprivileged. We continue to see people suffering within unjust systems that squeeze the life out of the working class to benefit those at the top of the economic pyramid. We see senseless violence and war just as we have for centuries. We see the same story repeated within the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. In fact, the New Testament was called the New Testament because Jesus came to show us all a new way of living together in community.
The God depicted in the Hebrew Bible is often interpreted as an angry and vengeful God that seeks to punish non-believers but Jesus talked about a different vision of God.
Jesus showed us that God wants what is best for all of us no matter what tribe we are a part of or how we worship. God wants to be in relationship with all of us. Jesus expanded the definition of God’s chosen people to include everyone. No individual or group of people is outside of the love of God. All are included.
When I think about how to help a weary world rejoice my thought goes to the teachings of Jesus and how he was determined to keep expanding the circle to show more and more people that they are loved by God no matter what. Jesus sits down to meals with tax collectors and prostitutes. Jesus heals a leper who would have been considered unclean and punished by God for his sins. Jesus restores sight to a blind man. The tradition at the time considered a blind man a sinner punished again for his sins or perhaps being punished for his parent’s sins. Jesus again and again rejects this way of thinking and continues to expand the circle to include those traditionally considered outside of God’s love. We see Jesus heal the bleeding woman who had been pushed outside of community because of her ailment and brought back into the center and shown the love of God.
Time and time again Jesus brings those considered outside the love of God back into community, rejecting the belief that some people are beyond God’s love and care.
That is how I see a weary world rejoicing, by bringing those on the margins of society and community back to the center. If the world could see everyone as equally a child of God, how quickly this world would change. We would see an end to violence and war because how could anyone harm another child of God? We would see an end to exploitation of workers because how could anyone exploit another child of God.
My prayer for this advent season is that the circle keeps expanding and brings more and more people into this understanding and truth. That was Jesus’ mission as he walked this Earth and that was the mission he gave all of us as his disciples. Keep expanding the circle and bring everyone together under this umbrella of God’s love. That is how we build the Kingdom of God here and now and bring rejoicing to a weary world.
May it be so,
Pastor Janette J. Navarrete
“It’s always darkest before dawn.” I had heard that phrase many times in my life, and understood the general meaning of it, but had never so clearly seen an example of it. The last few years have been heavy for us globally, within our country, and personally in our own homes. In this time, I also had the added weight of handling some urgent and sensitive family issues.
For most of my life, I have been the “fixer” in my family, or have tried to be. Even when it was difficult, and even when I wasn't asked, it was something I, at some point, decided was my burden to carry. Last year as my father was hospitalized, my whole world turned upside down. I had so many questions and concerns and had no idea how I'd make it through. I know now that prayer, especially from within this community is what kept me afloat, but I also recognize how I had stepped into survival mode and buried my own need to process all I was living through. Part of it was on purpose, some things were life or death and I was the only one who could hold space for it. But I also now recognize that I pushed that all so far down, that it has taken a long time to be able to come back to process it.
Thankfully, now a year and a half later, my family, my father, and I are doing well, and I can feel myself reawakening and finally being able to acknowledge all of what I have gone through in this time. I feel so grateful for this church who has been holding me and my family in prayer, even without the details, and forever grateful for a mentor and a pastor who has helped guide me on my healing path.
So when I ask myself “How do I, in this weary world, rejoice?” it is and forever will be, in community. In the laughter of our littles, in the stories of our membership, and in the cooking of a simple but delicious family meal.
It's called comfort food for a reason right? I know that I am feeling more like myself when I start cooking again. And not just my routine I need to feed myself and my family to survive type of cooking, but the slow cooking, the new recipe cooking, the cooking that is for the soul. I come from a lineage of women who showed their love through food. Women who grew their own crops and fruits and herbs and raised their chickens and cows. Women who were so much closer to the earth that I am. And so in my healing, in my finding ways to feel joy, I call to them.
My eyes may have never met them, but my heart has, and in that, I can find home.
The time may have changed, and it may already be dark at 5pm, but this is just our darkness before dawn. Church, this advent, as we prepare for the arrival of our joy, our Good News, let us remember to find joy in the ways that make sense for ourselves. It may not be insta-worthy, but if it speaks to your spirit, do it. Do it with love, with patience, with peace, and knowing that it is through joy that we find healing. Personal healing and multi-generational healing as well.