"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains." Matthew 24:7-8 (ESV)

1.  If evil is ordinary, and the banality of everyday life includes disasters and wars, pain and suffering, how will we recognize when the end is here?

2.  My mom always said when something broke, “Oh well!  It’s all going up in the big burn anyway!”  If indeed this is the beginning of the end, why try to make it better?  Why paint, write, sing new songs, build new things if it’s all about to end?

3.  Isn’t trying to make it better and sweeter here making us more comfortable and maybe even complacent?


1. have a portion of (something) with another or others.
Lisa Graham McMinn writes in The Contented Soul that when the expected good doesn't come--we can look for the unexpected good. For many of us, the pandemic has meant disappointment with the activities and events and plans we had in mind for 2020 being changed. So perhaps we can think about the  activities looking for joy and cultivating delight during times of limited travel and activity during pandemic--has there been something in nature or with art or food or dance or film you've been able to do even though the "expected good" hasn't come?

"Creating good societies in spite of it all"

WATCH // Hidden Legacy
Learn more about the art in the Japanese concentration camps
WATCH // Art as Activism
If you’ve never thought about some of the ways that artists can use their art for good- to add to the beauty, to raise awareness and build community-  then watch this video
WATCH // Filled with Wonder with Walter Brueggemann
In this beautiful video, Walter Brueggemann shares insight on the significance of the Advent story. "History is being broken open with new possibility," he says. Hear what gives him hope in today’s world.
RECOMMENDED READ // Drops like Stars by Rob Bell
Includes thoughts on suffering and creativity. There is also a full length presentation by Rob Bell, available for purchase and digital download, that I would also recommend.  
Quote from Socrates:
“This above all others is the region where a mans life should be spent, in the contemplation of absolute beauty…do you think it will be a poor life that a man leads who has his gaze fixed in that direction, who contemplates absolute beauty with the appropriate faculty and is in constant union with it.”
One of my favourite artists is Vincent Van Gogh. He famously said “art is to console those who are broken by life”. Do you agree? I don’t think art has to be activism, or raise awareness about injustice to be a form of resistance.
‘Eternity’s Gate’ is a Julian Schnabel film about Van Gogh’s troubled life, released in 2019. There is a profound scene where Van Gogh is talking with the doctor, following his ear injury and he is talking about his urge to paint and create beauty. Willem Dafoe plays Van Gogh and his character says “I’ll show what I see to my human brothers who can’t see it. It’s a privilege. I can give them hope and consolation.”

In what ways do you think art and beauty can offer hope and consolation?
MUSIC // Sara Groves — "Why It Matters"
When I listen to the lyrics from songwriter Sara Groves, I am convinced she has read my journals, and that we could absolutely be best friends if we ever met. Her words are always so relevant, and such perfect articulation of my heart. Her early albums were the soundtrack to my 20’s, and her recent music continues to bless me. One of my all-time favourite songs from Sara Groves is ‘Why it matters’. This song feels like a perfect fit for Lisa’s message, and the significance of our creativity and pausing for beauty in the midst of suffering.
Earlier this year, Sara started doing some live performances from her living room via facebook and instagram, at the beginning of the Pandemic. They were such encouragement to me, as I stood in the kitchen peeling garlic, chopping carrots, and crying. You can listen to ‘Why it matters’ wherever you get your music, or check out this raw loungeroom video from April this year- the song comes on at 15:30 , with some 2020 specific lyrics at the end! 


1. form (something) by putting parts together or combining substances; create.
2. cause (something) to exist or come about; bring about.
Make a batch of your favorite cookies and give them to someone in your neighborhood. You can do this safely by wearing masks and leaving the cookies on their doorstep. You could even make a note saying you care for them and thought they’d enjoy some treats.


1. make an attempt or effort to do something. Use, test, or do (something new or different) in order to see if it is suitable, effective, or pleasant.
Try community service.
There are organizations in our communities already helping people get food or shelter or clothing. Call a local food bank or homeless shelter or thrift store. They can tell you what they need. Many have places you can drop off canned foods. Look for ways to make a difference locally. Take the time to work for change and to make your corner of the world a little bit better. Make things new. What if we choose to do instead of say someone should?

In the Chattanooga area:
Chattanooga Food Bank 
This gives a list of their immediate needs.
Chattanooga Community Kitchen

Have a look in your local area for volunteer opportunities. Let us know if you have any suggestions that we can add here!


1. engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation
I love all the picture books by Laurence Anholt that introduce children to famous artists. ‘Tell us a Story, Papa Chagall’ details the story of a persecuted Jewish artist,  who made beautiful work despite challenge, mockery, danger, and great loss. Lisa shared with us the importance of creating and making beautiful things despite tragedy and crisis, and as a form of resistance against the darkness. I think Chagall did just that!