From the Pastor’s Desk

Every year it’s the same old story. I think we can all recite the story of Christmas by heart, or at least the little kid’s pageant version of the story, complete with barn animals, and shepherds, and wise men, and a shiny star. You’d think you would get tired of the same story, but no, every year about this time I get excited and more than a little impatient. Not for Christmas to come, but in the hope that THIS YEAR I will finally slow down enough to truly celebrate Advent BEFORE Christmas. You see, the truth is for all of the importance of Christmas, it’s Advent that I really love. That first Sunday of Advent is the start of the new church year. It means getting out a whole new set of commentaries for sermon writing, a whole new chance to start over with commitments to reading and prayer and other spiritual disciplines. And then Advent itself is four whole weeks of getting ready, of considering how Jesus changes my life and the world in which I live.

Christmas is great, but its Advent I love. Christmas is filled with commercialism and materialism and busy-ness. But Advent, advent begs us to slow down, to savor the anticipation of a new birth, of a re-telling of an ancient story of hope and love and beating the odds. Advent is one of the few seasons that commercialism hasn’t touched (well, except for those little advent calendars….and who doesn’t need a little chocolate now and then??). Advent reminds us that with God, amazing things can happen. There are the marvelous stories of a devout priest and his wife finally blessed with a son when they thought they couldn’t conceive…a son that grows up to like eating bugs and dressing strangely, but who heralds the coming of God’s kingdom with a call to change our hearts and minds and lives. That a young teenage girl getting pregnant before marriage might be more than a little scandalous, but also an opportunity for the grace and love of God to shine. That a tiny little baby born to a poor working family might outsmart an evil king, be adored by wise people from faraway lands, be smuggled across the border to escape certain death, and grow up to change the world. Who doesn’t fall in love with the peace, and love, and joy, and hope of God with stories like these…stories that beg to be re-told.

I hope that this year, you too, might get caught up in the excitement of waiting, of stories of hope and audacity, and love, and faith. Revel in the beauty of Advent hymns of hope and expectation (even if it means setting aside those Christmas hymns for a couple more weeks!) Join us each week in worship to gain a fresh perspective on an old, old, story. Let the Word of God come alive in your hearts and lives once more (or even for the very first time!).


With Great Expectations of Grace and Peace,


Pastor Tara