Pastor’s Friday Comments (11.27.20)

 

This Sunday will begin the Season of Advent, the time which, as you should know by now, marks the start of a new Christian Year and is the portion reserved for penitence and preparation.  It is when we recognize that God is already in the midst of us, but also that God is coming at some point to take us home. Why this Season is scheduled to run right up until Christmas, when we celebrate the first Advent, is beyond me, but there it is. In the midst of what is often the busiest time on the calendar, Advent struggles to remind us not to get too caught up in the sentimentality and joyful emotion of Christmas without remembering that the one born in the manger came to die and calls us to die to ourselves as well.

This year it may be particularly difficult for us to remember the second part of that truth. No one is called to be a Christian so that he or she might live a better life, but so one can renounce personal concern in order to live for the world for which Christ died. When one is facing the personal challenges of the threat of the pandemic, economic uncertainty, racial unrest, political division, and ecological disaster, it is difficult to focus on what one is called to do for someone else.

Which is one of the reasons Advent is an annual event. Each year we need to be reminded that, no matter what shape the world is in, no matter what challenges we face – either personal or global – God is still with us. God’s presence didn’t start in Bethlehem and it didn’t end at Calvary. God is most of all the God of the here and now, wherever “here” is and whenever “now” is occurring.

“Here” for you may be someplace you would prefer not to be. Separated from family, focused on distancing from others, disrupted from your routine, you may be dreaming of someplace else, knowing that for right now there is no “someplace else,” at least not a place where the effects of the pandemic are not felt. 

And “now” might not be your favorite time either. You’ve had more enjoyable times in the past; you certainly hope to have better ones in the future.

But the reality that we all have to keep in mind is that the God who was incarnate in Jesus Christ and whose Holy Spirit is at work in the world today is here with us in this place, in this moment. So, whatever challenges we have to face, we do not face them alone. 

The task of the Church, and our task specifically as the family of faith at Parkway, is to both remind people of that truth and to embody that truth by the way we live. We are called to bring the gifts of Advent – hope, peace, joy, and love – to the world. As we gather for worship, whether in person or virtually, we are to open those gifts for one another and we are to take them to the world.

As you live through these overlapping Seasons of Advent and Christmas and as they are underlain by the reality of current challenges, keep firmly in mind that God is still in control, God still loves you, and through you, God still loves the world.