One of my favorite scripture readings during Advent is a reading we will emphasize on Christmas Eve, but it is worth our attention throughout the Advent season. It is Isaiah 9:2, which states, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness——on them light has shined.” During the first two weeks of Advent, it is especially important that we focus on the first part of this verse. We need to understand that WE are among the people who have walked in darkness. We live in a world where there is violence, pain, heartbreak, and deep despair. Our failure to acknowledge this reality may result in our failure to appreciate what God achieved by coming into the world as Christ Jesus. We can easily see the powers and principalities of this world manifested in hateful political commentary and vicious rhetoric, yet Christ calls us first to examine ourselves. How often do we use our speech and actions to malign other people rather than to see God’s image in them? The evidence of our seeing God’s great light is how we see God’s image in other people.
I know the expectations for joy this time of year can be unrealistic for most of us. Many people become depressed because the world is filled with so much sadness that expressing joy seems inappropriate or naive. I continue to follow the Advent study “Awaiting The Already” by Rev. Magrey DeVega. His second week of Advent message is rooted in the idea that God calls us to embrace an offer of peace in the midst of violence and a variety of real reasons to fear. Just as the story leading up to the birth of Jesus includes sadness, fear, and danger, our world is a dangerous and fragile place. We will not appreciate the joy of Jesus’ birth until we recognize the world’s deep need for a savior.
This Sunday, December 5, our scripture passages are Philippians 1:6-11 and Malachi 3:1-4. I am working on a message entitled “Awaiting The Already: Fearless In The Refiners Fire.” I appreciate your prayers as we consider how we can embody the light of Christ in a broken and hurting world. We will offer communion at both services.
We have memorial services scheduled at Grace on December 4, December 5, and December 7, so we are reminded of the reality that this life is fleeting. This reminder helps us to focus on eternal things. Grace UMC is a living witness to our community that God’s love is an eternal reality available to all people.
Thank you for prayerfully considering end-of-year financial giving to Grace UMC. I look forward to seeing you all Sunday. Remember to invite friends to join us online or in-person.
Thanks for the continuing privilege of serving as one of your pastors!