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Advent and the Upside Down Kingdom

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.

Isaiah 11:6

By: Margot Eyring, Spiritual Director with Coracle

When Jesus came to earth, he wasn’t exactly who and what people expected him to be. First, he came as a baby, then he grew into a precocious teen, teaching the elders with authority, and later he was a carpenter who hung out with fisherfolk, tax collectors,“questionable” women, and children. Not to be pigeonholed, Jesus also engaged people in positions of power. He was a man who had nowhere to lay his head, and yet he was hosted for fine meals in homes of wealthy friends and was cared for by wealthy women. People expected an all powerful savior who would rule through the ways of the world, and Jesus washed their feet. Instead of using coercive power to rule, he was committed to the ways of peace, relationship and friendship for transformation. Many people missed Jesus’ invitation because he wasn’t what they were expecting. But when people spent time with him and listened to him, he turned their expectations of what it means to be a servant of God upside down.

I’ve been happily serving breakfast every weekday morning for over 8 years at a local church in my neighborhood. Each year, hundreds of volunteers join us in the preparation of over 10,000 breakfasts. Many local churches, non-profits, businesses, agencies, and co-ops donate food. It is truly a remarkable example of the kingdom of God enfleshed and in action.

One of our newest volunteers at Our Daily Bread has been Jesus to me and he is turning my understanding of what it means to be a “volunteer” on its head. Alexander is very young and a person of few words, yet he communicates joy and acceptance with all he meets. Instead of being disregarded for his youth, his age is an asset to making connections. He hasn’t ever chopped a vegetable, washed a dish, served food or cleaned up the dining room, yet he has brought laughter and smiles to every guest and volunteer who has taken the time to meet him. His service isn’t in doing, but in being. He is himself and he brings himself to the table every time he comes. Anyone who meets him feels welcomed.

We prepare food, serve it, and clean up after everyone each weekday at Our Daily Bread. This is important work and we all benefit from the generous volunteers who regularly serve the 40-50 friends who eat breakfast together. Alexander’s joyful presence reminds me that while my work in the kitchen is important, it isn’t the only work of the breakfast. Developing community and communicating joy and acceptance to all who come is just as important. Alexanderis helping me understand this reality in a deeper way and helping to transform my understanding of service. Meet Alexander—age, 10-months (and his mom, Kate). He is our youngest, and one of the newest and most regular volunteers at Our Daily Bread.

I pray as you continue to engage this Advent season, and soon celebrate the birth of Christ, God will turn some understanding of what is “normal” kingdom action upside down for you too.