God came close
The journey of Advent is a time of eager anticipation and waiting. In that regard, it almost seems like the entire year has been one long and arduous advent.
We have been waiting with bated breath for a vaccine for the pandemic that has ravaged our world. Small business owners, restaurants, employers, and employees have been waiting for our economic uncertainty to wane. Families and friends have been waiting for what seems like an eternity to gather together to celebrate birthdays and holidays without the threat of spreading the virus. Even churches, including our own Christ UMC, have been waiting for the opportunity to gather again without doing harm to one another and to our community.
Perhaps this year, we more clearly understand the way that our Jewish ancestors longed for and looked forward to the day that the Messiah would come. In the midst of their own dire situation, with the reality of Rome as an occupying and oppressive force in their land, the Jewish people did not give up hope. And even though the mouths of the prophets had been silenced for over 400 years, the Jewish people did not give up hope. Instead they reminded each other of the ways that God had been faithful in the past and they encouraged one another that God would be faithful even in the waiting.
They longed for and looked forward to the day that God would come close again and so do we. They waited expectantly for God to fix the things that were beyond human repair and so do we.
Perhaps it is in times like these that it is easiest to give up: to give up hope that things will get better, to give up faith in the church as being an agent of God’s grace to the world, to give up on loving our neighbor as ourselves, to give up on finding joy in the midst of suffering, to give up on finding peace in the chaos.
And today, if you feel tired and weary, I want you to know that you’re not alone. If you’ve contemplated giving up, I want you to know that you’re not alone. If you desperately need God to come close again, I want you to know that you’re not alone. This is what advent is all about -- waiting, expecting, preparing and hoping even when everything seems to be falling apart.
We have been waiting to breathe that sigh of relief you breathe at the end of a good drama. And if past is prologue, and if God’s very essence is good and faithful -- we will breathe that sigh of relief together again.
Until then may we pray for one another and encourage one another to remain hopeful and faithful. Our advent sermon series will remind us that “God came close at Christmas.”
Please plan to attend virtually on Nov. 29, Dec. 13, and Dec. 20 at 10:30 am on Facebook or Youtube. If you are able please plan to attend in-person at 9:00 am or 10:30 am on Dec. 6 for “First Sunday” and on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 at 4:00 pm or 11:00 pm. We will also have our outdoor Live Nativity on Dec. 18-19. And finally, we are planning to have small groups/families carol and give away cookies on Dec. 21 - which is the longest night of the year. Even in challenging times we can and will shine the light of Christ.
The light shines in the darkness,and the darkness can never extinguish it. - John 1:5