This Advent, as we near the close of a hard and heavy year for all of us, we know more than ever that we desperately need sacred space to lament, grieve, receive spiritual comfort, and glimpse hope. At the same time, heeding the call to justice is just as needed as ever. Pastoral leaders often discuss the pastoral and the prophetic as two separate entities, perhaps two callings that are diametrically opposed. We believe that this binary is false, for no pastoral care should ever ignore or cause further harm to the suffering, and prophetic ministry is most effective when lived out in community and relationship.
As you dig into our Those Who Dream Advent materials, including our devotional booklet, you will see that many of our images and theological reflections speak prophetically to themes of racial and social justice. In the work we do together as A Sanctified Art, we seek to be faithful to the stirring of the Spirit when creating art and resources, knowing that what we create might comfort, challenge, inspire, educate, and stretch those who engage with the materials. In all of our work, we are committed to anti-racism and anti-oppression. These commitments stem from our reading of scripture. In our sacred texts, we see a God who works for the liberation, justice, and wholeness of all of humanity; therefore, these theological values inform how we craft our art and resources for churches. We created these materials in May-June of this year (2020) following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, which ignited an historic groundswell of support and movement for dismantling racism. Six months later, when the call to dismantle racism continues to be just as urgent, we pray these materials continue to further and deepen the momentum and transformation that was activated in those months.
Our greatest hope and prayer is that our patron churches will not shy away from the content in our resources (even if it sparks discomfort, critique, or pushback), but use it as an opportunity for education, conversation, and—God-willing—transformation. We’ve long hoped that the way our work meets people—through art, poetry, liturgy, and written reflections—might provide openings for conversation, wrestling, prayer, and deeper connection with God. Here are some suggestions that we hope are helpful for utilizing the materials pastorally and prophetically this Advent season.