HAPPY NEW YEAR! No, I’m not early (in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I am never early). “Happy New Year” makes sense right now as Advent ushers us into the church’s New Year, which this year starts on December 3.
Advent looks back to the coming of the Earthly Jesus, born of Mary in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago. Advent also looks forward to the coming of the Cosmic Christ, who will return to set right all that has gone wrong.
We tend to dwell in the looking-back aspect of Advent: all those beloved Christmas carols, all those picturesque stories, all those warm and cozy, beautiful and fragrant traditions that we cherish. And, yes, let’s enjoy them and share them and give thanks for how they continue to offer delight!
Let’s also spend time with the looking-forward aspect of Advent. Can we take seriously the promise that Jesus will return in judgment and in mercy? What does that mean to each of us? What impact does that have on how we live our lives, on how we approach this and every season?
In his new book, Rise Up, Shepherd: Advent Reflection on the Spirituals, the Rev. Dr. Luke Powery writes this in response to the old song, “I Want to Be Ready”:
We should prepare for Advent. If we know a guest is coming to our home, we prepare the place and get it in order. Of course, there can always be surprise visits, some of them being unwelcomed, catching us off guard, unprepared. But every year we have Advent. Every year, we anticipate the coming of God in Christ to the world. Every year, we have the opportunity to get ready.
And then he offers this prayer: “Guide my feet while I run this race. Prepare me to walk into your arms on the great coming day and shine your Spirit on my path to illumine the walkway to Jerusalem. I want to be ready. Help me be ready.”
There are lots—at least one per week!—of joyful events at OPC this month: the Christmas Marketplace, the Christmas Pageant, Clark’s one-man adaptation of A Christmas Carol, two services on Christmas Eve, and a Kwanzaa celebration on 12/31 (see details throughout this newsletter). Please come and enjoy them all! And also carve out some time and space for the Holy Spirit to use Advent to make you ready to welcome God.
May this Advent help us all to be ready!