Friday, December 4, 2009
December 4th – Rev. Laurie Furr-Vancini
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)
The use of the above verse is not a typographical error. I could not leave this verse quite yet. What Tom did not share with you yesterday is that earlier in the week, he also used this verse in staff meeting. He quoted a poem by Presbyterian poet Ann Weems that plays on this verse. Weems writes:
Wouldn’t it be wonderful
If Advent came filled with angels and alleluias?....
Wouldn’t it be ecstatic if we could take those angels shopping,
or trim the tree or have them hold our ands
and dance through our houses decorating….”
When Tom read this poem I had just finished scrolling through online pictures from my sister who lives outside of Washington D.C. Her church had hosted the United African Children’s Choir and she and her family had housed 3 Ugandan children for 5 days. They hosted 3 girls, the youngest was 6. My sister explained the choir children are chosen from refugee camps throughout eastern Africa. They travel together for about 8 months and during that time they are given health and dental care they have not received in their entire life. When they return home the program sends them to boarding school and pays until they complete the equivalent of high school. These kids are given a chance. My sister explained the plight of the children in the refugee camps are dismal. Little food, scarce clean water, lots of illness and many of the girls are sold in to prostitution. There is little to no education.
The pictures were beautiful in so many ways. The Ugandan children had skin as black as night and their smiles were ear to ear in every picture. They were dancing and singing and learning to ride a bike and playing a video game and making jump ropes. They were with my lily skinned nieces and nephew arms slung around each other in their kitchen, in their dining room, in their family room. And, in fact, they did help trim the tree. And then, they posed under the tree in the princess nightgowns they had picked out.
Maybe this is what angels look like!?!
Ann Weems poem ends, “An angel-filled Advent has so many possibilities! But in lieu of that, perhaps we can give thanks for the good earthly joys we have been given and for the earthly “angels” that we know who do such a good job of filling our Advent with alleluias!” Who are your Advent earthly angels? Would someone say you have been an earthly angel for them?