Pastoral ponderings . . .
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth.”
December is the beginning of the new Church year, according to the liturgical calendar. The first Sunday in Advent is Christianity’s “New Year’s Day”. It’s a time of beginnings in our ancient Christian tradition; a time of anticipating what God’s grace is going to manifest next.
We don’t do anticipation very well anymore, in our attention-deficit culture. We want instant gratification. And if we don’t get it, we go somewhere else! That’s what makes the discipline of Advent so counter-cultural. “Be still, and know that I am God” doesn’t fit the marketing strategy. But that’s the only way we prepare the manger of our hearts for the mystery of Christmas: the mystery that God is giving skin and bone, flesh and blood to grace itself. And that gift is ready to be born in our own hearts and lives.
As Eric Jensen’s article this month reminds us, the challenge of Advent is to live in the “not yet”: the anticipation of what we hope but what we have not yet seen. It is the season that gives a place for doubt to co-exist with faith. The gift of grace is prophesied; but we aren’t sure when and where (or even if), this year.
So many kind, loving, gracious, and faithful people are facing the unknown this Christmas. So many are looking for work without any response. They know the Advent season all too well as the time of waiting and hoping against hope. It’s the time of not knowing what the future holds, and living one day at a time.
But these are the ones for whom the message was first given. The message that they have not been forgotten. That Immanuel is their champion. And Immanuel’s people are going to be the flesh and blood of grace for them. That’s the kind of community that Mount Tabor tries to be: a community that looks for the Messiah not in the halls of power and wealth, but in the streets and shelters and humble homes of those on the margins.
Thank you for the gift of being who you are as a community of faith called Mount Tabor: a community of compassion, inclusivity, and hospitality. Thank you to our church staff: Brenda Wardle, Gordon Smith, and Harry Heightman, who continue to be such a blessing among us.
Thank you for all the ways you are living God’s love in the world. That’s our calling as the body of Christ here in the city. That’s what we are for each other in a thousand random acts of kindness and senseless beauty.
May the love and compassion of Christ continue to be born in us, as we enter this new year together.