Rise & Shine - December 10
How can we use our shared traditions this Advent to connect with those around us?
The Rise and Shine discussion group meets Sunday mornings at 9:00 am in the Parlor. Adults from the 8:00 & 10:00 services gather for discussions that are relevant to their lives through the lens of a current topic and scriptural references. This week's story can be read or downloaded below.
Grandma's Accidental Thanksgiving Invitation to Wrong Teen Is Serendipitous for New Friendship
A few days before last Thanksgiving, Jamal Hinton, 17, a high-school senior in Phoenix, Arizona, received a group text message saying that Thanksgiving dinner would be served at 3 p.m. on the 24th.
"Let me know if you are coming," the text said. "Hope to see you all."
The only problem was, Jamal didn't recognize the sender's phone number. So, he texted back and asked who the sender was.
"Your grandma," was the reply.
Last Jamal knew, his grandma hadn't learned how to send text messages, so he texted back asking for a selfie from the sender.
Moments later, he received a photo of a blond woman with glasses -- clearly not Jamal's grandma.
"You not my grandma," Jamal texted back, including a laughing emoji and a photo of himself.
Then, on a whim, he texted again, asking, "Can I still get a plate tho?"
The reply was "Of course you can. That's what grandmas do … feed everyone."
Jamal and the sender, Wanda Delch, agreed to meet face to face the next evening, and when they did, Wanda extended the invitation to Jamal's entire family.
She then decided to get a larger turkey, as she would now have 20 people around the table.
Jamal also communicated with Wanda's grandson, Brandon Burgoyne, who echoed his grandmother's welcome.
"I think that's crazy that people can actually connect and be so nice to each other with people they don't even know," Jamal told a reporter who picked up the story. "I feel like everybody sees this joy that two people, two strangers can actually connect."
Wanda and Jamal were able to connect using the shared tradition of Thanksgiving. How can we use our shared traditions this Advent to connect with those around us?
More on this story can be found at these links:
Grandma Texts Wrong Teen for Thanksgiving, Now the Families Will Eat Together. Good Morning America
Grandmother's Accidental Thanksgiving Text to Random Teen Leads to Heartwarming Viral Story. NBC News
Grandma Texts Wrong Teen About Thanksgiving, Invites Him Anyway. Huffington Post (includes photos of Jamal and Wanda and screenshots of the text messages)
Here are some Bible verses to guide your discussion:
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
The writer of Hebrews includes this instruction in a larger list of directives about living a life pleasing to God. This verse tells us, among other things, that there's something godly about sharing.
We usually think of hospitality as sharing good times with people we already know. Earlier in this chapter of Hebrews, the writer urges the listeners to show hospitality to strangers because some have entertained angels without knowing it (vv.1-2). The Greek word for hospitality, philoxenia, is literally love (philos) of strangers, outsiders
, or foreigners (xenia). (We call the opposite, fear of strangers, "xenophobia").
Questions: What has helped you learn the truth of this biblical instruction? How do the holidays provide us with the opportunity to show hospitality to strangers?
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God -- not the result of works, so that no one may boast. (For context, read 2:1-10.)
The grace of God "is not your own doing" -- Got that? -- "it is the gift of God." That's what the apostle Paul testified. We cannot earn God's grace, but it comes to us even before we are looking for it.
Questions: How does knowing every stranger that you meet is also given the gift of grace change your outlook on daily interactions? Does the holiday season challenge or compliment this outlook?
A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. (For context, read 16:11-15.)
At first glance, it might sound as if Lydia was an on-the-spot convert to Christ under the preaching of Paul. But if we could talk to her, we'd likely hear that for the days or weeks or longer preceding that conversion moment, there were things happening that began to awaken her spirituality. Some friend may have said something that started her thinking. Some seemingly mundane experience may have pricked Lydia's conscience. She may have chanced to read something that led to thinking about ideas that she had not considered previously. And so on. All of that is God's grace -- preparing Lydia's heart ahead of time, so that when Paul presented the Gospel, she was ready to hear and respond positively.
Questions: In what ways have strangers shown the grace of God to you? In what ways have you shown it to strangers?
... for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (For context, read 2:12-13.)
So here Paul is saying that God not only enables us "to work for his good pleasure," but even enables us before that to "will" it -- that is, to want to do it.
Questions: How do the holidays awaken a will for you to do God’s work? What is the work of God that we are called to do during Advent?
A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis (BCP p.833)
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is
hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where
there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where
there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where
there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to
be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is
in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we
are born to eternal life. Amen.