Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

Advent: Season of Hope, Peace, and Joy

December 15, 2015

hope peace joyWe are well into the season of Advent– only one Sunday between us and the special event we wait for. Advent, in the church world, is a season of waiting and watching for Christ to come in his many forms. We watch for the baby in the manger, we watch for the Christ who will come again. We look behind to the prophets of old who foretold the birth of the Messiah, and we look ahead to the life, death, and ministry of Jesus.

For the first Sunday of Advent we celebrate Hope. Hope is an expectation and desire that something will happen. It is the thing that keeps us going; hope makes us stand up and raise our heads. As Andy Dufresne wrote to Red in The Shawshank Redemption“hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

The Psalmist writes, “Our hope is in the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” We hope in the one who created the universe out of nothing, who made the sky and seas, the earth and all that is in it. Our Advent hope is for the one who is and was and is to come– the Messiah, the deliverer, who will heal our brokenness with compassion and grace. This year’s gospel passage for this Sunday features John the Baptizer, pointing the way to Jesus the Christ, and the hope that comes with him.

For the second Sunday of Advent we celebrate Peace.  Peace can be understood as a time of quiet and tranquility, free from disturbance. It is a time without war, without strife, a time of harmony between social groups. In this year’s gospel for this Sunday John calls us to live peacefully with each other– not in so many words, but through actions: be kind and share what you have with anyone who has less; don’t cheat anyone; and don’t steal from others but be satisfied with what is yours.

In these times of seemingly endless war and conflict it is especially important that we look to Jesus the Christ as the Prince of Peace, and that we follow his way in seeking that peace. The ministry of Jesus was one of healing, of comforting, of loving– especially to the poor, the oppressed, those who had demons or other illnesses. Jesus opened the eyes of the blind and awakened the people around him to their own self-worth, bringing peace to their lives– and ours.

The third Sunday of Advent is Joy Sunday. Joy is a state of pleasure, delight or happiness– though being joyful doesn’t mean being happy all the time! To me, joy is more of a state of being, rather than an emotion. Joy can be fleeting, as when you receive a piece of good news; or can be longer lasting, as when you have an encounter with God or the Spirit. These mountaintop experiences can bring us a joy that stays with us always.

We see joy in this year’s gospel passage for this Sunday, which is the song of Mary. Mary sings of a God who will bring down the powerful and lift up the lowly. This is good news and a cause for joy for anyone who suffers at the hand of oppression!

Hope, peace, and joy all abound during the Advent season. Hope for a special Christmas with family and friends, peace on Christmas Eve when the children are asleep and the presents are wrapped, joy in the knowledge that this season is about the giving of ourselves to others.

These are all wonderful parts of Advent, but this coming week is the best of all– a more excellent way. I can’t wait!

 

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Winter Grace

January 15, 2014

I do not understand the mystery of grace– only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it finds us.” –Anne Lamott

As I am writing this I am sitting at the window of my office and a light snow is falling. We are now past the Advent, Christmas, New Year hullaballoo, into what some folks refer to as the “dead of winter.” And in a way, the world outside looks dead– the leaves are off of the trees, the grass is dormant, today the sky is the grey that only a winter sky can be.

This is a difficult time of year for many people, with the short, cold days that force us to stay indoors more than we’d like; the season of joyful activity is behind us and that leaves many people feeling down and out. Flu season is in full swing and it just seems like a good time to hunker down and hibernate– maybe bears have the right idea!

And yet, there is a special beauty this time of year. As I watch the snow fall I see the way the flakes dance upon the wind; I see the tracks made by the man who walks his dog around the church each day and I see the patterns that the snow makes on our patio behind the church. Winter has a beauty all its own, and we only have to look around us to see God’s presence and grace in the world. And even in winter we can be transformed by grace, the grace of lengthening days, the grace of a  bright sunny day sandwiched in between the dingy ones. The grace of a cup of hot tea or soup shared with a friend.

Today we pray for those who have no roof over their heads to keep them from the cold; we pray for those who are suffering in body, mind or spirit from illnesses major and minor; we pray for those whose lives have been touched and forever changed by a violent act, and for those who are working to bring joy to all who suffer. “From [Jesus Christ] we have received grace upon grace” says the disciple that Jesus loved. Look for the grace as it meets you where you are. Share the grace that you have received with someone who needs it. Grace is transformational and never leaves us where it finds us. May we all find the grace in these days of winter to bring transformation to our world.