“Hold Fast”

Thursday, December 21

Emelia Attridge, Congregational Care Coordinator 

As Christmas draws near, we consider the dreams of hope, peace, joy, and soon, love, which we meditate on in this season of Advent.

Dreams are where are yearning and imagination meet. Dreams occur when we take a hope and give it vision.

At the beginning of the month, I went on a trip to D.C. with a class focusing on the History of the Christian Bible. We visited the National Museum of the American Indian Museum, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, along with other sites. In each of these places, we researched and analyzed the role the Bible played, and continues to play. It was heart-rending.

In Matthew, John the Baptist makes the proclamation: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matt. 3:2).

Naming one’s own privilege is an ongoing process. I find this to be true over and over again for myself. I’ve learned that experiences like I had visiting these museums–witnessing the stories of the marginalized and the oppressed in history, and grieving the ways my own faith tradition has done evil–causes me to constantly “convert.” The word, “convert” or “conversion,” meaning, “to turn all the way around,” is applicable here in this journey. Bearing witness requires constantly turning around and looking at yourself and your community, your surroundings, your wallet, your securities, your assumptions….

I heard the words of John the Baptist in these museums, “Repent!” but I had not yet heard the second part of his demand until I heard the Advent story. This is why I dream. The kingdom of heaven is near. It is breaking into our lives over and over again. Yes, it requires this act of turning myself around, bearing witness, and naming privilege. But if we lose hope, if we lose the vision of peace, the feeling of joy, the dream of love, then we are like, as Langston Hughes writes, “a barren field.”

Hold fast, beloved.

Christmas draws near.

Dream in the darkness.

“Dreams” by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.