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 December 11, 2020 
 By CURTIS RAMSEY-LUCAS in Hyattsville, MD &
JOSHUA KAGI in Pottstown, PA
This Christmas give the gift of membership
Do you know someone who would enjoy The Christian Citizen? Someone who would appreciate our emphasis on justice, mercy, and faith. Someone who values stories that are provocative, timely, and relevant like our current series on the challenge of observing Advent and celebrating Christmas amid the coronavirus pandemic.
If so, give the gift of membership this Christmas. For a contribution of $25 or more, you can gift a membership to Christian Citizen Ambassadors to a friend, colleague, mentor or mentee. Christian Citizen Ambassadors receive early access to digital content, subscription to the print publication, and one copy of #InThisTogether: Ministry in Times of Crisis, new from Judson Press.
You can also give yourself the gift of membership. Join today and help us extend the reach and impact of The Christian Citizen. Together let’s bring a greater measure of justice, mercy, and faith into our communities and society.
Curtis Ramsey-Lucas
Joshua Kagi

A 2020 Christmas. It is not a new idea to consider Advent, Christmas and the new year as an annual “reset,” a chance to begin again to repair the broken pieces of our lives. But it may be time to rethink how we are to make our way forward in such a time as this – clear-eyed and determined, wielding glazing kits, sewing kits, whatever tools we can muster. We are people of hope, after all. And no matter the rancor and outrage and sorrow and fear of this year, a light is coming. Read more.
Observing Advent and Christmas this year—pivoting from church to home during a pandemic. This pandemic has weighed heavily on our traditional plans of Advent and Christmas and required us to think creatively, but that does not mean our hope is lost. The Christian Church first started as a movement of house churches and micro-communities struggling to figure out how they can practice their faith in extremely challenging times. This year for Advent and Christmas, your church, family, or community can pivot to have a vibrant and imaginative holiday season.  Read more.
How to connect this Christmas—pick up a pen. It’s going to be a tough Christmas season with the need to be especially careful as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. How can you connect with the people in our congregations who need care and connection? In-person visits are still prohibited in senior living facilities in many places. No matter official policy, you don’t want to put any vulnerable person in your congregation at risk.
Read more.

A lesson from the Grinch this Christmas. Dr. Seuss’s classic tale, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” reveals that there are people who struggle with the “good cheer” at Christmas. There are people who do not find the season of expectation enchanting, nor do they look forward to it. This season of Advent and Christmastide, plagued by a pandemic and the fallout of a divisive election, has the potential to be emotionally heavier than ever before. Read more.
THIS WEEK IN JUSTICE... Under a new administration, can refugee resettlement de de-politicized? Forty years after the Refugee Act, the all-time low numbers of refugees resettled in the United States is concerning. But, according to refugee resettlement experts, that number is a symptom of a larger, more alarming problem: Refugee resettlement has become a partisan issue. (Sojourners)
#InThisTogether: Ministry in Times of Crisis
For churches seeking to do ministry well in these unprecedented times, the quotidian has emerged triumphant. The creation of community strains under too much initiative, too much planning, too much hustle and bustle. It thrives, like sourdough starter, when given space to digest and share. One of the things that keeps many people from baking is the waiting, the fallow space between mixing the ingredients and placing a loaf in the oven. Yeast needs time to work its alchemy on flour, water, and salt. It does not take place on our own schedules, and it can be frustrating when baking does not align with our busy schedules. A good sourdough loaf may take as long as two days to properly prove in the fridge. Leave the mixture in too long and you get over-proven bread; bake a loaf too early and your loaf more resembles a rock than the airy wholesomeness you sought. What we often fail to realize is the work that goes into making church possible also includes time and space for the holy to rise into our midst. Order today!
THIS WEEK IN MERCY... Pandemic helpline launches for people with IDD, caregivers. As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, a new 24-hour support line is working to help individuals with developmental disabilities and those who care for them cope during this tough time. (Disability Scoop)

Why we light those candles. Stages of grief will be evident. Denial about COVID-19 and its ability to harm us will persist. There is widespread anger at the failure of our national leadership. Depression has set in. Suffice it to say that it may seem like a cruel joke when we hear, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” coming across the airwaves. What does it mean to be people of faith, people of Advent, in these times? Read more.
This Advent, old traditions can be made new. Advent is the season of anticipation and hope, and we are all yearning to make connections and meaning in a season that promises to be unlike any other. The pandemic doesn’t mean that churches have to give up on traditions. They simply have to be creative in how they implement them this year. If done right, we might find that the new ways that we live out our traditions help us to make meaning in unexpected, delightful ways. Such surprises are always a part of this time of year, and the Great Surpriser is sure to show up this unusual Advent season. Read more.
Advent, a season between. Advent is a season between. Advent is about celebrating the coming of the Messiah in Jesus and the second coming of Christ. It is about living in such a way that we are honest about our grief while also living with hope. It is asking God to show up and expressing our gratitude for all the ways God is already present. Advent is a lot like dawn…it is neither night nor day. But like a watchman, we turn our back on the darkness and turn our face toward the eastern horizon in hope for coming light. Read more.
THIS WEEK IN FAITH... Joy and justice: Two sides of same coin. Through collective trauma, healing can begin to show up on the horizon when we are willing to embrace joy and pursue justice. It is a way we can open our eyes to the everyday blessings of God and bring comfort to bless others in challenging times. (Good Faith Media)
What changes after covid-19? I’m betting on everything. For all the talk of a “return to normal,” large chunks of the old normal are due for a post-covid-19 rethink. (The Washington Post)
Eric Metaxas and the losing of the evangelical mind. Our minds are a gift from God. Like all good gifts, we are called to steward them wisely. As conspiracy theories infiltrate the church and compromise its witness, we can’t just roll our eyes as though we’re accommodating an embarrassing uncle who drops by for holiday dinners. The gospel speaks to the heart and the mind. If wild conspiracy theories find fertile ground among Christians, we shouldn’t just be scandalized; we should be motivated to reclaim the intellectual rigor of our faith. (Religion News Service)
Why the partisan divide? The U.S. is becoming more secular—and more religious. Our national divide is deeper than just knee-jerk partisanship—it involves a confluence of religio-geographic trends in the United States that all but guarantee the kind of political gridlock we saw manifest this month at the ballot box. The United States is not a purely secular nation—nor is it a fully religious one. The country stands out among its international peers as distinctly balanced. And acknowledging this reality may be the first step to burying the country’s cultural weapons of war and embracing a posture of greater political pluralism and cooperation. (Religion & Politics)
More churches defined as racially diverse but that doesn’t lead to racial justice work. Evidence that American churches have become more racially diverse doesn’t mean they have become increasingly active in promoting racial justice causes, according to a new sociological study. (Baptist News Global)
Closed for Christmas, Washington National Cathedral is more popular than ever. During the month before Christmas, Washington National Cathedral typically transforms into a sparkling, bustling destination with choral performances and a live Nativity. But since coronavirus shut its regular services to the public earlier this year, its staff has been transforming its massive sanctuary into a digitally attractive space, and they’re having some success. (The Washington Post)
For families living with disability, churches mustn’t go “back to normal” after COVID-19. Let’s use this time to take stock of some of the “temporary” modifications we’ve put in place during the COVID-19 season that have actually been helpful developments in fostering Christian community. Let’s reflect on the new skills and abilities we have all developed and consider how we might be able to continue to use these skills. And rather than simply going back to normal, what if we take this opportunity to map out a new kind of normal for what it means for us to live as the Body of Christ in Australia in the twenty-first century? (Australian Broadcasting Company)
Five myths about the news business. News publishers face a devastating paradox: While the Internet has delivered tens of millions of readers, finances are worse than ever, especially for local news outlets. Tech giants now stand between publishers and readers, and Americans value common facts less than ever. Solutions will require overcoming persistent myths about how news publishing works. (The Washington Post)
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