One might say that I have a very convenient commute from home to church. A couple of years ago after I got my first smart watch, I tracked that it is about 500 steps (for me as a 5’4” woman) to go from my door to the church’s parking lot door. In real measurements it is about ¼ of a mile. I have walked that ¼ of a mile several times a week for almost 11 years. Let’s say I have walked it twice a week round trip for 50 weeks each year (2000 steps/week=1 mile/week) that would be 50 miles a year or 550 miles in 11 years. Some weeks I walk to church more than twice a week, some weeks less, but it is clear that I have walked that stretch of Independence Ave hundreds of times, and I have walked in the rain, sunshine, snow, heat, fog…you name it, I have experienced it. It usually takes me about 5 minutes to walk home at a comfortable pace. I love this perk of living in the parsonage that is close (but not too close) to the church.
Today I walked to church and holy smokes, my face almost fell off from the wind chill, especially at the top of the hill! Ouch! Seriously, it may have been the coldest I have felt in a long time—today in Ann Arbor, it is 1 degree that feels like -22 degrees. The wind is gusting, and it was not a peaceful winter walk by any means. I know my musings just yesterday talked about the peacefulness of a snowstorm. But this ain’t what I meant! Oof…
But the cold did remind me of my privilege. I walked because I can, not because I have to. I could have driven to church. I could have worked from home if I really needed to. I don’t know about you, but I have noticed that over the past several years there have been more and more people asking for money on the side of the road, especially on Washtenaw Ave. I don’t know if this change has been because of the pandemic or if it is related to the outrageous housing prices in this area. I stop periodically and give them some money when I can, but good God, I hope those folks are somewhere warm today. No one could survive very long in this kind of weather…my heart aches for those who are most vulnerable right now. Our weather patterns are getting more extreme because of climate change and it is the poorest of the poor who suffer the most.
During Advent and Christmas, we remember that God broke into human history in the form of a poor baby. God was not born in a palace or even in the suburbs. God was born in a barn and laid in a feeding trough, and Jesus spent his life teaching us that God’s kingdom (and I use that word intentionally) is an upside down kingdom, where the first becomes last and the last becomes first. Where the powerless are lifted above the powerful. Where the children are blessed and cherished. Where the poor have a special place in the heart of God. Where the cold and hungry are filled with good things. That is the Advent and Christmas vision that we are reminded of each year. God’s kingdom doesn’t make sense to our human understanding and that is why it is so powerfully subversive. I pray that those suffering today find comfort and that those of us with power and privilege work to end inequity.
Be well today and stay safe.