Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Advent Bracelet

I am still wearing two slightly battered, mis-matched bracelets. The tightly-knotted turquoise, orange and white one has survived on my wrist for an amazingly long time. I did take it off for my son's wedding, which technically broke my wear it til it breaks rule. For a long time, the tri-colored yarn was accompanied by 3 stretchy elastic bands strung with teeny tiny beads. These beaded bracelets are often traded among teen boys and girls in our sister church community and after a while they break, scattering beads across the dirt or across the floor. Some have survived long enough to return to El Salvador for a visit or two.

The second bracelet on my wrist is a purple, stretchy rubber-band bracelet which springs into the shape of a clothes hanger when I take it off. It was obtained in a trade - tiny pink beads for a purple hanger. I have to confess: the hanger was also removed for the wedding.

This morning I pulled out the big plastic box which holds gift bags, tissue paper, tags and ribbons. Time to wrap the Christmas gifts! As I was digging around among the glittery snowman bags and recycled tissue I found a bracelet. What a surprise! I had not thought about this blue and white, ribbon-wrapped bangle for months! I pushed it onto my wrist, resting the image of the Salvadoran flag beside the turquoise yarn and the purple hanger, and I thought about when it was that I had received the bangle...

Almost 11 months ago, Bishop Gomez gave me the lost El Salvador bracelet. I wore it every day for quite some time and now I wondered, how did it end up in the gift-wrapping bin? Prior to a kid's birthday or our nephew's wedding or who knows what special event, the bracelet must have slipped off my wrist and nestled itself among the wrappings, waiting to surprise me on a gray and rainy Advent day.

Dios - UniĆ³n - Libertad -- (God - Union - Liberty) -- These words of guidance for a nation which I now carry with me on a bracelet, arrived unexpectedly during this time of Advent. As I catch a glimpse of the bracelet, I think about all of my friends in the Salvadoran Lutheran Church, who share God's love by building community and doing justice among the marginalized, the forgotten and the oppressed. As I bustle around the house, wrapping the gifts and baking the treats, this little blue and white Advent bracelet reminds me of God's purpose in sending Jesus...

Isaiah 61.1:

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;


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