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From the Pastor’s Desk December 2016

FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK

 

‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” crooned the voice on the radio as I drove into church this morning, until I switched it off. It wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet and already the commercialism and forced cheerfulness was grating on my nerves…and I genuinely enjoy this season of the church year. But, if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s all a bit too much to bear sometimes. The recent election, indications of rapid climate change, the preponderance of suffering and inequality, the bills, the to-do list, the loss of loved ones, and the increased prevalence of acts of hatred can weigh us down so much that it feels more like a “Blue Christmas” than a “Holly Jolly Holiday”. At moments like these it can be a great help to turn to the psalms where we find the palmist has already given voice to our sorrows, our fears, our frustrations…and it is from the psalms that we can also come to develop a vocabulary of hopeful waiting. The psalms of the Advent season voice our deepest desires “peace to the people, justice to the poor, salvation for the children of the needy” (Psalm 72), “Bread to the starving, justice to the oppressed, freeing the prisoner, the blind made to see, lifting up those bent low” (Psalm 146).

Perhaps the hardest part is that we WANT to be happy and joyful, but the reality in which we find ourselves feels anything but. As one who is grieving the loss of a loved one, I know this time of year can be especially hard, and many are facing struggles that others know nothing about. At times all of the gaiety of the season can feel cruel. If you find yourself in that place, know that you are not alone. If you are hurting, or feeling less than joyful this holiday season, its ok. (And know that you can reach out, if just to have someone who will listen).

The season of Advent is not a pre-Christmas party, but a time of quiet reflection and waiting, a time in which we are invited to give voice to our hopes for a better tomorrow, for our desire for a savior to come and restore all that is broken, to bring back that which has been lost.

By focusing our attention on this season of Advent, living into these weeks of expectant waiting we can find the vocabulary to voice our inner-most longings for God, our deepest desires for the true gifts of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. As we work our way through these themes of Advent we may find that in the waiting God prepares our hearts to receive the gift of Christmas- the light of the World, the Word made flesh in the infant Jesus of Nazareth. This Advent season, participants in our Monday Morning Bible Study are reading Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent by Enuma Okoro. The text takes us through daily meditations on the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Through their story of sorrow and longing we will be exploring our own experiences of waiting, longing, and grief along with the joys and blessings we receive. This is what the season of Advent is all about, so go ahead and turn off that Christmas music (at least until Dec. 24th) and allow yourself to ponder just what it is you are longing for as together we explore our need and desire for the living God to enter into our hearts and our lives, transforming our sorrowful expectations into joy-filled acceptance of God’s love for us all.

May the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love of Christ Jesus fill your hearts this holiday season and remain with you always.

Pastor Tara