I was early to my 2:00 meeting yesterday because the drive-through I planned to go through on my way was too busy to stop. That meant, that by the time I got home and made dinner, my total food intake for the day consisted of a doughnut, some coffee, some trail mix, and a banana.
The irony that this collection of food (or lack thereof) was on a day in which students were learning about food justice was not lost on me.
The meeting I was early to is preparation for a trip I am taking with work this spring. I am going with 10 undergraduates and a business professor to Detroit in March--jealous yet? While there, we are going to be learning about Detroit, the systemic injustice, the fiscal collapse, how those issues have manifested themselves in food access issues, and what our community partner is doing to alleviate some of these issues. Now you're legitimately jealous, I bet.
And what does a trip in March about food justice have to do with Advent?
Sunday's gospel tells us that John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey and proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
It's important to note that John's is a baptism of repentance. According to Merriam-Webster, repentance is from the Latin for regret. It's an event looking backwards, forgiving existing sins. John was preparing people for the coming of Christ to walk among them in a specific time and specific place. Advent is not a preparation for Christ to come among us in Erie or Detroit or Ashtabula on December 25, but a preparation for Christ to be fully present both throughout all time and outside time. When we consider preparation for Christ's presence, then, it can't be John's baptism of repentance, regretting. Instead, we need to look at the event just a few verses later, when Jesus is baptized by water and the Spirit. And, of course, to our baptism.
The rite for Baptism asks the candidate, possibly through his or her parents and godparents, to "renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God." When I look at this trip to Detroit, or Eric Garner, or global warming, it's hard not to consider the promises 7-month-old Sara made.
Advent preparation doesn't end on December 25. At the very least, Christmas lasts another 12 days, and the post-Christmas clearance lasts even longer. For me this year, Advent preparation is bound up in Detroit preparation, and I bet you have some long-range preparing you're doing, too.
This time I'm taking to be present this Advent will continue, I hope, to make straight the pathway to Detroit and beyond. As ridiculous as it has always sounded to me to keep the spirit of Christmas all year long, I'm starting to think there is benefit at least to keeping the Advent spirit pf preparation and readiness all year long--and I don't even have to decorate.
PS-If you'd like to learn more about the trip I'm taking with the students, you can read more about it on our blog, www.gannondetroit.blogspot.com. It not only will chronicle our trip, but you can read all about last year's trip, too.
PPS-If you'd like to support the students' ABST scholarship fund, you can do that at www.gannonalumni.org/abstdetroit.