Reading and Learning During Advent

Advent is a time for active waiting on the God who comes to us. It is a time to reflect in hope, joy, and love as we continue to examine our hearts and make ourselves ready for Christ’s presence at Christmas. Some years ago, I began what has become a personal tradition of reading one book a week during Advent and Lent. This comes to four books for Advent and six books for Lent.
Reading during Advent and Lent prepares me for the work and ministry as your presbytery executive. I believe the challenges we will face in a post-pandemic church are unique and without precedent. To become the future church, we must learn our way forward.
In their book, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Heifetz, Grashow, and Linsky talk about distinguishing technical problems from problems that demand an adaptive solution. Simply put, when a problem can be defined and a solution calculated, it is a technical problem. But when we are faced with a challenge that we can hardly define and the solution involves deep change, we are dealing with an adaptive challenge.
They write, “Adaptive challenges can only be addressed through changes in people’s priorities, beliefs, habits, and loyalties. Making progress requires . . . shedding certain entrenched ways, tolerating losses, and generating the new capacity to thrive anew.”
The pandemic has helped us to see that we can change. We can adapt to new circumstances and environments, learn new technologies, and be the church that serves the community, all while wearing a mask and keeping social distance.
Reading and learning continue to expand our minds and make us pliable for the continued changes that will be demanded of us. We can learn to do things differently. We can be a different church for a different age. We can be a church that stands for justice, experiences vitality, and makes a difference in the world. Walk with me as we journey into God’s future together.

The following are the four books I’m reading during Advent:

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. Laurence Gonzales

The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times. Jane Goodall, Douglas Abrams

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America. Ijeoma Oluo

Look For Me and I’ll Be Gone: John Edgar Wideman
Rev. Craig M. Howard