It’s nearly the second Sunday of Advent. Advent–a season that often accompanies plastering smiles and pseudo-happiness. But this year, this year I dare say our nation has been given the gift of denial shattering desperation. Maybe, just maybe, we might be ready to have some rough places made plain. To start having the really real conversations that we are a people in crisis. A people in chaos. A people in desperate need of admitting that we’ve got a problem. A racism problem. An authority problem. A generational problem. And dare I say…we (and I include me in this) in the church have a nice problem.

I don’t know about you, but I was raised to be quiet, silent even, about not so nice things. These were whisper topics: cancer, addiction, abuse…and racism . All of these whisper topics could get people angry. Which of course is not the good Christian thing to do. So it’s best just to whisper, smile, and pretend. I actually think this nice problem feeds and fuels the racism problem. You see it isn’t just that we in the church are “color blind,” we’re in a color bind. Admitting there’s a problem means speaking above a whisper. It means admitting that there are rugged and ragged edges. Admitting that our niceness has a chokehold on our churches and doesn’t dare allow the Spirit to breathe.

How can the mouth of the Lord possibly speak in our sanctuaries in a chokehold?