Message from the Minister
The Season of Advent is upon us. The nights are growing darker, the days are growing colder, yet our hearts are filled with a sense of heightened anticipation, expectation, and waiting. We get busy with planning, shopping, baking, parties and visiting. Yet, in the midst of our chaos, God calls to us to prepare for the coming of the Christ child, being born anew into our world and into our individual hearts. Advent reflects our present reality at New Church in many ways. As a community of believers, there is a nervous expectation, wondering what God might be birthing within us. Like all people, we have that human temptation to want to rush ahead, to forget about the preparation, to just move on to the main event. But birthing new life takes time, for humans it’s 40 weeks. Ah – now there’s a number we’ve seen a few times before – 40 days it rained and poured before Noah saw dry land, 40 years Moses and the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, 40 days Jesus was tempted and tested in the wilderness. In each story of “40” an old way of being was being left behind, something new was being formed in the lives of the faithful. New life takes time, even for God.
During this time of preparation, we need to take time to reflect on the hope, peace, joy and love, offered to us through the grace of God. We are constantly reminded that God reverses expectations and flips the world order on its head. God is holy mystery, reminding us that when God is most involved we should expect the un-expected. The people of Israel yearned for a Messiah, a king, a mighty Saviour who would come to the rescue the faithful in a world of political and economic domination. The first desire was for a strong warrior who could take on the corrupt powers and principalities of the world with superior brutality and force. But with true wonder and wisdom, our Creator sent, not a mighty warrior, but a vulnerable, fragile baby. God sent someone (not from wealthy monarchy) but from lowly peasant stock – to carry, not a message of conquering might, but one of enduring peace and love.
Christmas for me is always a time of wondrous grace. God created us to be in relationship with God and each other, and we wandered. God gave the people the law, and they turned away. God sent prophets to call the people back into relationship. With all those attempts, God didn’t give up. Instead God knew us well enough to know that we needed to meet a person who so fully embodied God that we couldn’t ignore him. God sent us someone we could use all our senses to connect with, to see, hear, touch – someone who carried the mystery, awe and wonder of God, yet could still capture our human hearts. Jesus embodied God’s heart and God’s message of love, and then started embracing the world with it. To know that God would go to such lengths, that God would persist time and time again, leaves me feeling profoundly loved, and grateful.
As Jesus’ followers, may we remember who God calls us to be in this Advent season. As we move through the coming weeks of hope, peace, joy and love, may we prepare our hearts for the new life I believe God intends to birth within us through the blessings of the Holy Spirit.
May God’s Blessings be with all of you and your families throughout Advent, Christmas and into the New Year!
Christmas Blessings to you and yours!