Picture Advent Day 2: Prepare

Picture Advent Day 2: Prepare

by Kimi Floyd Reisch

Proverbs 6:6 – 9 Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise. Without having any chief or officer or ruler, it prepares its food in summer, and gathers its sustenance in harvest. How long will you lie there, O lazybones? When will you rise from your sleep?

Prepare is one of those words that can mean many different things. You can prepare to take a test – either academically or medically. You can prepare ingredients for cooking. You can prepare a bed for sleeping. LGBTQIA+ people prepare to come out to friends and family or prepare for gender confirmation.

Big and small, we prepare every single day.

When you plant an edible garden, some of the plants grow quickly. You plant in the spring, and by the 4th of July are enjoying the bounty of the earth. Lettuce, sweet green peas and June strawberries taste best right off of the vine or as they are picked. And experienced gardeners know that you can get multiple harvests in a single growing season if you replant or stagger the times you plant.

Other plants, like hard winter squashes, take longer to ripen. They are planted in the spring and then require months of careful tending and protection from bugs and adverse weather. The side benefit is that many of these crops can then be easily stored for use all winter without doing more than keeping them in a cool, dry location.

Over the centuries, figuring out how to store food to survive the winter has been a constant challenge, at least until the era of electric refrigeration. But even if stored in a refrigerator, foods from that first group only last up to a week or two.

In order to survive, humans had to learn how to prepare food to store. This led to the creation of many of the foods we consider synonymous with specific cultures. Lutefisk, dried and salted cod, pickled in lye, was invented to preserve the bounty of the seas harvested in Scandinavian countries. Kimchi, salted and fermented vegetables with spices, became a staple of Korean winters where it was stored in giant Earthenware jars in the ground that prevented the vegetables from freezing. Pemmican, a paste of dried and pounded meat mixed with melted fat and other ingredients, was made first by the migratory Plains tribes in North America to preserve meat. All over the world, human survival has depended upon our ingenuity in creating ways to preserve food during growing seasons to nurture us in other times of the year.

Preparing during Advent needs to be as ingenious as our food growing and preservation. For many, faith begins as a fast-growing, quick to ripen crop that is replanted multiple times. We name this event – calling it baptism or rebirth or a calling. For others, faith is like the winter squash plant and takes months or years of tending before it ripens or reaches maturity.

But truly, our faith should do/be both. We need to replant and refresh some of our beliefs, but we also need to nurture and tend to others. Doing both allows space for us to invite God in, for God and Scripture to speak to us in new ways.

An Open and Affirming process is a way to prepare before adopting a covenantal commitment that speaks to love and justice for same-gender-loving, bisexual and transgender folks. It is a way to reflect back on the history of the faith community and to nurture seeds planted by the Spirit that teach us how to rise from our sleep and continue growing in the future. Covenants are like that – closer to winter squash than lettuce and needing tending to grow.

What will you prepare for this Advent season? Which faith practices or commitments will you tend and care for in order to see them grow and flourish?

Prayer: God, help us learn to prepare our hearts and souls during this fallow season. Let us learn from the business of ants, modeling not their franticness but their commitment to keep doing the work each and every day. Amen

Tomorrow’s word is Wait.

We invite you to join The Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ on Facebook over the next few weeks as we Picture Advent. How do you envision the words of Advent? What images come to mind? This year, as we are all far apart on Advent, maintaining social distances to keep us safe, join us in a new tradition and participate in #ONAPicture Advent. We’re inviting you to use each day’s theme to inspire a daily photo – either a new picture or an older one. Each afternoon, we will post a new reflection for that day’s word with a focus text, prayer, and an image. Then, post your chosen image as a response to our thread. At the bottom of our reflection is the word for the next day, allowing you to consider what the word means to you. And PLEASE COPY – use this chart to have your own #ONAPictureAdvent within your faith community.

Here is the entire list.

Word of the Day Date
Hope 11/29/20
Prepare 11/30/20
Wait 12/1/20
Listen 12/2/20
Affirm 12/3/20
See 12/4/20
Promise 12/5/20
Peace 12/6/20
Tender 12/7/20
Comfort 12/8/20
Home 12/9/20
Ancestors 12/10/20
Kindness 12/11/20
Nurture 12/12/20
Joy 12/13/20
Open 12/14/20
Awaken 12/15/20
Courage 12/16/20
Truth 12/17/20
Provide 12/18/20
Grace 12/19/20
Love 12/20/20
Shine 12/21/20
Blessed 12/22/20
Rejoice 12/23/20
Glory 12/24/20