Advent reminds us that the best things in life are not the trinkets, toys, thrills, and temptations of this world that come from the outside in an attempt to give us a temporary thrill or some short-term pleasure. Life is about the gifts that God provides that work from the inside out and sustain us even when everything is not going our way. The themes of Advent point us to those gifts of hope, love, peace, and joy.
My congregation will begin reading from the NRSVue at the beginning of the new church year, the first Sunday of Advent. I am looking forward to continuing the journey with them with this “update.”
On November 10, the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem published a Statement on the Celebration of Advent and Christmas in the Midst of the War. I realized I needed to put the letter in front of our church council to see how, as a congregation, we might want to respond in solidarity. I’d like to invite you to do the same.
Do I have to come up with something memorable, novel, and cutting-edge for my last Christmas sermon before I retire?
Rather than being passively obedient or overpowered, Mary was a person of agency who was willing to violate the rules.
Inviting Jesus to come and enter into our lives means embracing the unfamiliar, challenging the powerful, opening our circle of inclusion wider, sharing the gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Welcoming Jesus gives joy, peace, and hope; it also requires courage and sacrifice and, sometimes, brings heartbreak.