Alphabet of Ideas
In the wake of the 2016 US presidential election, Rev. Martha Peck wrote a newsletter article for her church and an accompanying “Alphabet of Ideas for Anxious Times.” This list could be used:
- by a mission committee, seeking to expand its reach
- by a prayer group as a prompt for intercessory prayer.
- as an art activity—inviting people to illustrate the actions with stick figures or other drawings
- by individuals/families during the season of Advent
The presidential election of 2016 revealed a deep divide between Americans, accompanied by strident and frightening rhetoric. Regardless of how you voted, we are all anxious about the future of our beloved nation. Perhaps you are wondering, “What can I do to heal the divisions, to bring my own ideals into the public square, and to act on the values I hold dear?” For Christians, the question is even more focused. “How can I walk with Jesus through these anxious times?”
These are Advent questions, my friends. Although Christmas carols fill the air, Advent has traditionally been a somber season, a time when we experience longing for a world not yet revealed. Advent invites us to name the world’s sorrow and pain, while we wait with hope for the coming reign of Christ. Advent calls us to be faithful, even when we cannot see the star or hear the angel’s promise of joy.
On Nov. 9th as I felt powerless, scared and sad, I thought, “What can I do?” What can I personally do to turn back the tide of despair, to bring some small measure of kindness to the world? I started to go through the alphabet, trying to find an active verb for each letter. Only after I finished my list, did I realize that 26 letters of the alphabet is pretty much one for every day of Advent.
So here’s a suggestion. Take a look at my Alphabet of Ideas for Anxious Times (below). Each day during Advent, pick one action and try to do it. Maybe you’ll make your own list. You won’t be able to complete this work by Christmas. Maybe you’ll want to keep going after Christmas. Maybe you’ll use it for the next four years… or forty.
For children, the challenge of Advent is waiting until Christmas morning. For adults, the challenge of Advent is acting to make the world ready for Jesus once again.
Let us begin.
What Can I Do? An Alphabet of Ideas for Anxious Times
- Act as you wish the world to become
- Create beauty
- Defend those who are in danger
- Experience nature
- Feed people
- Give of yourself
- Hope, then help it happen
- Inspire imitation
- Join with others
- Know your strengths
- Listen, Learn, Love
- Make music
- Name the good.
- Organize for change
- Quiet your mind.
- Respect differences
- Savor life
- Take risks
- Use less of the earth’s resources
- Voice your vision
- Welcome strangers
- X Cross out cruelty
- Yield your privilege
- ZZZ… Sleep well, because God is awake.
© Rev. Martha B. Peck, 2016