Greetings and Peace in the Name of Jesus Christ!
Following Jesus is an adventure. Whether it is giving your money so someone else has enough to eat or being courageous in the face of bad news. Following Jesus is an adventure.
Our Bishop, Sally Dyck in her book A Faithful Heart shared a story about her aunt Dorothy. Her aunt was always the one to make food, to serve at church, to roll bandages, and to raise money for a mission trip for someone else. When she was 84 she decided to go on a mission trip. She traveled to help those ravaged by Katrina. Her grandson went with her. She wasn’t able to “swing a hammer” or “repair a roof”. Dorothy cooked and she cleaned. She talked with people and made them feel at home. The Bishop writes, “she was thrilled with the adventure of following Jesus”.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving and the Season of Advent we have the opportunity to appreciate the adventure. Being thankful for the ordinary and extraordinary moments of hope and goodness is something we can do every day not only on Thanksgiving. Remembering other people, even those we don’t know is something we can do every day not just during Advent and Christmas.
Being hopeful is what the season of Advent is all about. Advent hope is hoping in a future, provided by God that is good and just. “The people in darkness will see and experience light.” Visions of peace will become a reality. The prophet Isaiah’s message is bold. Mary the mother of Jesus prepares as with the message in her song of joy and justice in the gospel of Luke. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices because of the good things God is doing and will keep on doing.” Mary is hopeful in a time of desperation and uncertainty in her own life.
The blue/purple color of Advent will swirl into the white/gold of Christmas and we are lifted up by the confident and committed words of Isaiah and Mary. God’s hope for justice for this world was a real dream for both of them. How will you dream this season?
We follow Jesus and prepare as a congregation for his birth. God calls us to dream big. God reminds us we all have something to offer. God sustains us to be courageous and faithful in the face of obstacles. God wants us to keep dreaming and working for love. We will worship together in the coming weeks and sing about Emmanuel, God with us, revealed in us. Revealed in us? Yes, even in us!
“In this crossover moment, the moment of pause between preparation and celebration, heaven’s membrane begins to tear and eternity silently spills into time, and we meet you, God. In this crossover moment the moment of “AHA!” waters part and the songbird sings and promise is fulfilled and belonging confirmed and the Savior breaks through . . .” (Seasons of the Spirit)
The Savior breaks through; a son is born for us and we receive his light that shines in darkness. We boldly and courageously trust that he has called us light for the world. Advent is our time to prepare and be on the adventure. This question from the Bishop’s book opens a window to how our light keeps burning bright, “what would it take to be on that adventure with Jesus that helps you see the beauty, but also requires the courage of faith?”
With thanks for all of God’s gifts in you,
Greetings and Peace in the Name of Jesus Christ!
In the book Slow Church Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus, Smith and Pattison write about the importance of gratitude.
“Gratitude is perhaps the most important way we practice recognizing the enough all around us.”
Gratitude is the opposite of dissatisfaction. When we are dissatisfied we think about all the things we do not have or insist on thinking about who we aren’t. In the church it is important to value what we have in our midst. It requires practice.
We practice every Sunday in our Call to Worship by remembering who God is and what God is like. We don’t begin by thinking about ourselves, we begin by honoring the One who has given us all we have and all we are. We practice every Sunday when we sing our opening hymn,
Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty . . .
For the Beauty of the Earth, for the Glory of the Skies, for the Love which from our birth over and around us lies. Lord of all to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place, I can feel his mighty power and his grace.
Bring many Names beautiful and true. . .
All around us are traces of God’s blessings. Giving thanks for a small gift can be the catalyst God uses to do something even more dramatic. Not long after Jesus fed the 5000 with a few loaves of bread and two fish he was surrounded by another crowd. He asked the disciples to help him. They said, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” They were thinking about what they lacked. Jesus was focused on what they had. He gave thanks for the bread and told his disciples to distribute it. . . . and the crowd was thankful for the feast that day.”
When we focus on what is absent among us, we are only thinking about our needs and not all of the things God is giving and doing. Jesus gently instructs us to look at what we have and to resist dissatisfaction and be grateful and then see what happens.
As we remember all the gifts God has given us as a faith community at Sunnyside and Hermitage let us delve deeper into how we can use what God has given. Plus, it’s exciting to have the attitude of what’s next? Thankful to be with you as we wait and see what will happen as we follow Jesus and love one another as he has loved us.