Grace to you and peace from Jesus Christ who came to live among us!
Signs of Christmas are beginning to appear all around us! And as they do we are reminded that the season of Advent is upon us. Advent means “coming!” In the tradition of the church over the last 1500 years Advent has marked the 4 weeks before Christmas. Weeks set aside to focus on the truth that Jesus came to live among us, continues to come to live within us and will come again to bring to fullness the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Advent is a time of waiting, longing, anticipation and preparation. As we wait for, and prepare to receive, the coming of God in the human person of Jesus, we open our lives to be filled with the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love.
One of my favourite Advent/Christmas scripture passages comes from the beginning of John’s Gospel.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life,and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it….
14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,full of grace and truth.
This passage reminds us of two additional gifts that can fill us at Christmas – life and light! The Word, which is God, is life! And life is the light for all people. And no darkness can overcome the light! Darkness can momentarily block the light but the light will always find a way to shine through!
God who is life and light and the source of life and light for all, became human flesh and lived among us. The way The Message version of the Bible translates verse 14 sends shivers through my body.
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
God is life and light! God is generous inside and out! God is faithful and true from start to finish! God can fill us with hope, peace, joy and life! And God is not content to be God from a distance! So God makes a choice to come in close. God who is not content to live outside of us decides to moves within us! God who is “holy other” choices to become one of us! God becomes flesh and moves into our neighbour! WOW!
If ever we need that kind of God, and all the gifts that come with that God, it is now!
We are tired of this pandemic and a growing second wave. We are sad that present and looming restrictions will keep us more apart at Christmas than we had hoped. Maybe we are mad at others, at our leaders, at each other, at ourselves, maybe even mad at God. And we are trying to see the light when it feels, some days, like the darkness is growing darker.
Our pastoral prayer is that Advent and Christmas this year will help prepare us again, and help us experience again, the God who came, continues to come and will come again. Jesus prince of peace, light of the world, source of life, hope, love and joy has come to live in our neighbourhood! That is the good news of Advent and Christmas!
Our Advent worship theme this year is “A WAY in a Manger: the gifts of Christmas”. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed these words of God: “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19).
In a Faith@Home worship resource sent this week to families with young children Tanya shared these words. They are words we all need to hear.
“The pandemic has created so much loss, along with disappointments that we have never experienced before. As young families trying to navigate the struggles of this time, Jesus offers us a WAY.
- Feeling sad? Jesus show us A WAY to HOPE.
- Feeling mad? Jesus shows us A WAY to PEACE.
- Feel like complaining? Jesus shows us A WAY to JOY.
- Feeling lonely? Jesus shows us A WAY to LOVE.”
These gifts of Christmas, HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE continue to come no matter what we experience in the world. The way that God made, and continues to make, became so much clearer as God came to live among us in Jesus. Jesus is the way to hope, peace, joy and love!
May we receive these gifts of Christmas, and allow them to fill us with life and light! And may we share them in our neighbourhoods in the weeks to come!