Thank you all so much for reading Radvent 2020. We are honored and humbled by your journeying with us. We pray that this year’s Radvent challenged and encouraged you.
May Radvent be a light and an offering.
Much love, and solidarity forever,
Megan Westra and Ben Swihart, on behalf of the Radvent collective
“Is such the fast I desire,
A day for men [sic] to starve their bodies?
Is it bowing the head like a bulrush
And lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call that a fast,
A day when the Lord is favorable?
No, this is the fast I desire:
To unlock the fetters of wickedness,
And untie the cords of the yoke
To let the oppressed go free;
To break off every yoke.”
Isaiah 58:5,6 (The Jewish Study Bible)
“To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
Being an abolitionist requires unlearning every single thing we’ve been told about jails, prisons, and police since birth
To consider people as full human beings, instead of “monsters” and “psychos”
To prioritize community over our selfish need for revenge
Awkword, Ten Demands
A Christian-life which is not rooted in the sensual, which does not have an immediate impact on the lived experience of the human being is worthless; it cannot bring sight to the blind, bind the wounded, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, or liberate the oppressed. Freed from the sensual, it has no need to do those things. In the sacred texts of the Hebrews and Christians, we learn that the Divine repudiates this separation. The Divine rescued the Hebrews from slavery and oppression in Egypt, healed Naaman the Syrian of disease, and fed Elijah, a widow, and her son in Sidon during a drought.
The story of Jesus is not ultimately remarkable because the Divine takes on human form, but because the bodily resurrection and transition to “Heaven” fundamentally changed the divine. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the Divine’s very self returns to the wholeness of the Trinity embraced by human flesh. Now, included in the nature of the Divine, is stuff of the human. The sensuality of the Divine was introduced through the body of the Christ in the world, and is forever reinforced by the striking presence of his physical form in the Trinity.
How will the Divine release the captives, give sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free? The answer given was the physical body of the Divine in Jesus of Nazareth. In Isaiah 43:19, the Divine promises to do something new with the desert. Order not chaos. Water not dust. Direction not purposelessness. Roads, water, rivers, animals and people are sensual; they can be experienced. Jesus shows up on the scene, and does a new thing. Our bodies are holy because they are included in the Trinity. The Divine is present now in your body, and you are present in the Holy Body. It isn’t an easy answer, but it is an embodied one.
The sensuality of the Divine offers us an invitation to the freedom of presence. Where we see the sick tended, the naked clothed, the hungry fed, the incarcerated liberated, the immigrant welcomed, the violence of racism and policing resisted—there we also see sensuality of the Holy Body in action. Like the seed from the parable of the Sower, we see in those places the seed of the Holy Body taking root and growing strong. Each person is a vessel, a vase of the Holy.
In keeping with the sensuality of the Divine as remembered on this day of Advent, take three deep breaths. Breathe in the fragrance of the bread-of-life that is presence as exemplified in the relentlessness of the ever-present, sensual, Divine-love of Jesus, James Baldwin, our aunties, mothers, cousins, sisters, and grandmothers who have dedicated their lives to the resistance of pessimism, oppression, and isolation. Breathe into your animal-soft bodies the slightly-sharp fragrance of the Divine leaven of your resistance, your justice, your liberation, your tears, your hope, your despair, and your experience. And breathe in the trust that the release promised by the Divine is here, and is yet to come.
In the name of Love, the Loved, and the Lover, may the peace and joy of the Divine be always with you, in you, and through you.
Kerry and Brandon Pritchard have been married since 2000. Neither of them can hold a high-paying job because they’re not sold on this whole capitalism gig. They’re both invested in community mental health, and working toward improving services and removing barriers to access. They’ve got 2 cool kids and live in Tulsa, OK; although, that may change. Where they live, of course, not the coolness of their children.