⏰ Advent is a Wake Up





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C. Wess Daniels
C. Wess Daniels
Good morning, Friends.
I’ve got some exciting things to share in this newsletter. I am going to cover the theme of Advent and Revolution for the next few weeks. So I hope you’ll stay tuned.
Advent is a holiday within the Christian liturgical calendar that names the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Advent is not something that is commonly celebrated among Quakers, though I have a sense that more and more pastoral Friends do something to demarcate this time of year. I personally love the time of advent because there are a lot of traditions and practices that come along with it that are geared towards expectant waiting, listening, and paying attention. All themes that are critical to the spiritual life and fit well within Quaker practice. While I recognize that not everyone participates in these kinds of liturgical practices, I find that I really can use all the help I can get to stay awake in my spiritual life. Advent offers a way in not just to the birth of Jesus, but to revolution. An overturning of the world as it is, pointing to a world that is possible. One where, as Mary sings, the rich and proud will be brought down, and the poor and humble will be lifted up (The Gospel of Luke Chapter 1).
He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.
Advent is a Wake Up to the liberation that God is bring through the poor and powerless.
Are we ready? Are we watching? Will we work with God or against God to bring about this new world?
Finally, not everyone who reads this newsletter follows me on Instagram and Twitter, so if you’ve missed out, our big family news is that we adopted a rescue pup named Magnolia. Learn more about her down below.
Hold Fast to Thy Way,
Wess Daniels
Greensboro, NC (Haw River Watershed)

Meet Our New Puppy Magnolia
Meet Our New Puppy Magnolia
Ms. Magnolia
Ms. Magnolia
This past week has been filled with lots of puppy love. We adopted Magnolia from a rescue shelter on Sunday of this week. She and her 3 siblings were left in the hollow of a tree about found about 5 weeks ago. Because of that we don’t know her mix of breeds but we believe that she has some American Pit Terrier, among other things in her. Since that time their foster mom has been bottle feeding them and taking care of them. Magnolia, or “Mags,” is a complete sweetie. She loves to snuggle, has lots of puppy energy, and is learning very fast. As someone prone to research, I have loved learning about puppies and have been watching and reading up loads on training in gentle and non-invasive ways.
We are all in love. You can follow here adventure on Instagram (our 13 year is running the page).
⏰ Reflection: Advent is a Wake Up
Radiohead - Fitter Happier
Radiohead - Fitter Happier
Radiohead’s song, “Fitter Happier” is a song that points out how modern life in late capitalism is geared towards putting us to sleep, wanting a life of “no surprises” (the name of another song the album). This song is a classic example of the liturgies of empire - liturgies that wish to lull us to sleep and keep us from caring or even knowing about the suffering of our neighbor.
In the song we hear the voice of Apple Computer’s “Fred” who emphasizes lines like:
Slower and more calculated
No chance of escape
Concerned but powerless
This describes a life where everything is laid out. Everything is expected. There is little emotion. Little surprise. And no uncertainty at all.
The message behind “Fitter Happier” points to the modern tendency to want things static, ordered, sterile and certain. We want no surprises, we don’t want to be bothered, and we put great effort into ordering our lives that way.
Our whole society bends this direction. Think about the past year and how we as a country have responded to Covid-19, Police brutality, devastating poverty and increasing unemployment, political change? Instead of adjusting, instead of responding to the suffering around us we - as a country - try to harken back to an illusory “golden age.”
What is the “American Dream” if it is not an appeal to the desire for class certainty in the lives of people who lack such certainty?
What about White Supremacy? Is it not a particular structure that guarantees certainty to one race of people at the expense of other races?
What undergirds the roots of the military industrialized complex if it is not a striving to erase all uncertainty for those who wield military might?
Things like retirement, better tax structures, endless diet programs, modern medicine, rigid exercise regimens, elite education, increasing hours in the work week are all attempts at delivering us from uncertainty.
John Says Repentence is a “Wake Up”
This week’s Gospel reading for Advent is from Mark 1:
1:2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;
1:3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”
1:4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
And here is where John’s message, deeply troubling and subversive, makes impact. Repentance here isn’t about personal piety but deep societal change where the poor and vulnerable, those whose backs are against the wall, have been neglected, or worse, exploited.
If modern society tries to put us to sleep in the pursuit of no surprises, then John’s message breaks into the middle of our sterility with a message of repentance and forgiveness, two practices that unlock uncertainty.
If our modern society is setup to follow a formula of expectation, then John’s message is an invitation into mystery.
In this week of advent, we focus on the practice of spiritual preparation. Spiritual preparation runs counter to everything around us that tries to lull us to sleep.
Spiritual preparation is the work of opening oneself up to mystery, preparing oneself for something yet unheard of or experienced.
Quakers say we believe in this every time we show up to meeting for worship, or meeting for worship for business, and enter into “expectant waiting worship.”
And yet I wonder, how many of us come prepared to truly enter into the full mystery of God? The possibility that we might truly encounter the unknown.
The ability to be surprised, to practice awe, and enter into the mystery of the work of God in the world is a deeply powerful Spiritual practice.
The Rabbi and Jewish Theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote (From Who Is Man? 1965, Ch. 5).
…Wisdom is fostered by awe. Awe precedes faith; it is the root of faith. We must be guided by awe to be worthy of faith.
Forfeit your sense of awe, let your conceit diminish your ability to revere, and the world becomes a market place for you. The loss of awe is the avoidance of insight. A return to reverence is the first prerequisite for a revival of wisdom, for the discovery of the world as an allusion to God.
I believe that John’s “preparing the way” is a call to this kind of awe, this kind of surprise, and seeing that to be open to uncertainty is in fact what is needed in order to accept the new work God will do in the birth, life and subversive ministry of Jesus.
❓Query for Personal Reflection
  • Are you open to surprise and the unexpected in and around your life?
  • What does it mean prepare in a way that keeps you open to uncertainty and mystery?
  • How might you practice awe this season?
🐦 Tweet Thread of the Week
David Hayward 🇨🇦
My print "Neither" is one of my personal favorites. I love the color, the texture, and the message. I want to express my love and support for all my transgender friends and transgender people everywhere on the #TransDayOfRemembrance https://t.co/B66k5TI90o
🔗 Dress Down Friday Links
In the Story of the New Testament We Are the Romans—No Matter Who Wins the Election
‎Inverse Podcast: Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited with Paul Harvey on Apple Podcasts
A Decision Tree for Sketchnoters
📆 Upcoming Events
This coming Friday, I will be joining a panel of people discussing Quaker Pastoral Theology. You can learn more about this and the second panel on “Vocational Ministry.”
💚🧠 Final Thought
No one can celebrate
a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor.
The self-sufficient, the proud,
those who, because they have
everything, look down on others,
those who have no need
even of God – for them there
will be no Christmas.
Only the poor, the hungry,
those who need someone
to come on their behalf,
will have that someone.
That someone is God.
Emmanuel. God-with-us.
Without poverty of spirit
there can be no abundance of God.
-Oscar Romero
☕️ Thank you for Supporting This Newsletter
You support this newsletter by reading it, sharing it with your friends, and/or by contributing financially to the making of this newsletter, and my other ministries.
Thank you! -Wess 💚☕️
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C. Wess Daniels
C. Wess Daniels @cwdaniels

Old and New (Spiritual) Technologies For Life Today in the Face of Empire. Renewal and change in the hopes of mobilizing communities for love & liberation.

Wess Daniels
Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College

🔆 More info: https://gatheringinlight.com

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