By LSSNCA guest blogger, The Rev. Louis R. Tillman, IV, Senior Pastor
What is Advent? St. Philip’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Baltimore, MD has personified Advent into 4 vital parts: Preparation, Proclamation, Participation and Revelation. As the oldest African American Lutheran congregation in North America, we live out these vivacious principles in a variety of ways. We challenge our members to prepare their minds and hearts to receive how the Holy Spirit will work in their lives; to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in all spaces and places that they are privileged to encounter; to participate in social justice activities that help seal the hermeneutical gap between the sanctuary and the streets; and to trust the revelation where God asks us to actively educate, advocate and activate the community to understand that their lives have worth and value in all seasons.
Advent is a season rich in tradition, symbolism, art, music, and liturgical practice. It has its own unique themes as well as those that point the way to Christmas. And yet, we annually confront the pressures and questions of “Why can’t we put up the Christmas tree in the sanctuary on the first Sunday of Advent?” and “Why can’t we sing Christmas carols in early December?” The answer, of course, is that doing so allows Christmas to intrude. It allows the themes, practices, spirituality, history, traditions, symbols, art, and music of one season to displace those of another. We lose the richness and the benefit of experiencing the promise, longing, hope, and expectation of Advent. The world, television, and shopping malls have done all they can to convince us that Advent does not matter it has no place in our culture and many of us have come to accept that for our church, as well. Our faith teaches us something very different. It teaches us how to be the “church” in this Season of COVID-19.
St. Philip’s has continuously embodied this Season of Advent in our local community by fighting the battle on COVID-19. This powerful faith group has taken on the challenge by distributing over 10,000 COVID-19 care kits and 1,000 boxes (50lbs each) to the residents of East Baltimore on a weekly basis. Our prayer is that St. Philip’s Lutheran Church and First Baptist Church of Maryland will start the only free weekly COVID -19 testing for East Baltimore.
For more information on St. Philip’s please follow us on social media @stphilipsbmore .
LSSNCA is proud to work in conjunction with partners like St. Phillip’s to serve our local and regional communities. We recognize the great work being done by their congregation and applaud them for standing up for and serving their neighbors in need. Like St. Phillip’s in Baltimore, you can lift up families and youth here in the DMV. Check out our volunteer opportunities and maybe make a monetary donation. Thank you and happy holidays!