By Father Casey Shobe
Christmas is coming, but it’s not quite here yet. I am grateful for these final few precious days of Advent, and not only because I haven’t quite finished my shopping and to-do lists. I’m grateful for a few more days to pray in the spirit of Advent. If Christmas can easily become an exercise of fantasy, when society invites us to pretend everything about our lives is as perfect as our Christmas card pictures, Advent is an exercise in honesty. In Advent, we are invited to admit that the reality for which we hope – a reality poetically described by the visions of Isaiah we’ve been hearing on Sundays – is not yet our reality today. The Kingdom of God is right now all around us, and yet we still know it incompletely and imperfectly.
So let’s keep praying with all our hope and longing. Let’s pray for faith and courage to do the things that bring the goodness of the Kingdom around us, and let’s also pray for the light of Christ to shine into more of the dark corners of our world. Let’s keep praying and striving, because even as we celebrate the first advent of Christ, and wait for his eventual second advent, he has given us the privilege of manifesting his advent today. As his followers, we get to be the way he comes into the world: our compassion, our mercy, our generosity are how the Kingdom is made known. It’s a tall order, I know, being the hands and feet of Christ today, but that’s how much he trusts us…enough to be known through us.
Speaking of being known through us, I am excited to share with you that the Vestry has chosen to give away the totality of the loose-plate offering at Christmas. God freely and generously gave his Son to the world, so it seems fitting to be a conduit of radical generosity in support of work that makes his love known. The two recipients will be Episcopal Relief and Development’s “1000 Days of Love” Campaign and Promise House.
1000 Days of Love
This special campaign by ERD will expand support for early childhood wellness through programs that provide nutrition, clean water, healthcare, and education for children in communities across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. And thanks to a generous grant to ERD, all donations given by December 31 will be matched dollar-for-dollar, making our Christmas offering go even further.
Promise House responds to the lack of community support for homeless and runaway youth by providing a transitional living center and a center for homeless pregnant and teen mothers right here in Dallas. They offer crisis intervention, counseling, life-skills education, and outreach to neglected and abused at-risk youth.
For those of you who are concerned about the decision to give this money away when we have capital maintenance needs on our own campus, please know that we have ended the last two years with budget surpluses, and each time the Vestry designated much of the surplus toward our capital needs. So the decision to give away our Christmas loose plate does not mean we don’t take seriously our own responsibility as stewards of the church. We can do both – support holy work happening in inspiring agencies and take care of our own operations as a church.
I hope to see you this weekend and in the coming joyous week.
Fr. Casey became the fourth rector of Transfiguration in October 2014 after having served churches in Rhode Island and Houston. He is married to Mtr. Melody Shobe, also an Episcopal priest, and they have two daughters, Isabelle and Adelaide. Fr. Casey grew up in Temple, Texas, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin. His Master of Divinity was earned at Virginia Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry at the School of Theology at the University of the South (Sewanee). He loves playing golf, road cycling, hiking, brewing beer, and working in his yard. You can contact Father Casey by email.