In this season the church turns from Christ is King to Advent to the Nativity and Christmastide, ending in Epiphany.
In Advent we witness the words of the prophets to expect the unexpected, to watch for signs of transformation, to turn in our old frame of minds for a “meta-noia” a larger mind that was in Christ Jesus. We sing, “the world is about to turn” and “come thou long expected Jesus.” We might think of Advent as patiently waiting to open gifts or ways to savor the Christmas treats, but it’s a deeper practice than that. Its anticipation of what’s not yet revealed, not yet apparent.
In our Christian lineage, we intentionally mark each year with a celebration of the birth of God in the world and what that means for agricultural workers, for essential hospitality workers, for those not allowed into homes or hospitals, for those seekers who dare to leave their lineage from across a continent, and for a mother who had every reason to say no, but who said yes to the life altering newness of working with God in bringing God into the world. Angels sing, stables are swept as clean as possible, and civil and religious authorities are alerted and threatened. from the highest to the lowest, the news that God is here comes as a life altering surprise.
And these surprises make way for the epiphany that God is here, in our own very lives. Even during the deep threat of refugees fleeing genocide, relying on the hospitality of other religions, and dreams shared by strangers from other traditions and cultures, the holy family are sustained by something unmistakably larger than themselves.
This season is a reminder that your real life, and mine, suffering-and-all, is sustained unexplainably by an infinite love that brings to pass peace, joy, and reconciliation… good tidings for ALL people everywhere! If you’re tempted to think you’re short on Good News, know from our Advent- Epiphany scriptures that you’re in good company. And if you’re not sure if something new can be born even as old structures pass away, know from the Nativity accounts that God dwells among us in the most humble places, and the world is about to turn!
We are in a world of change, and the church is not immune to this. Change is not a sign of failure or shame or obsolescence. This Christmas consider all the changes that our foreparents in faith underwent: all the loss, all the chaotic newness, all the unknown. As you gather for celebration and gratitude, and as you share generously with those in need, consider how nothing separates us from the love of God, nothing. And when things wind up, take time to let this news come home to your own body, time to pray and contemplate, space to take in a peace that passes understanding.
A Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas to your family!
Rev. Troy Bronsink
Stated Supply Pastor