Grace and peace to you as we await the arrival of our Lord. December is one of the best months in the life of the church. The hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” perfectly represents the church’s cry during the Advent season:

O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here,

Until the Son of God appears.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Advent is the time when we wait expectantly for the coming Christ. We reflect about the meaning of Christ’s gift to us and how, without Christ we are people lost to ourselves. In Advent we live within the tension of the time, “the Jesus that has come for us and the Jesus that will come again for us.”  It is hard for church folk to feel down about the gift of the birth of our savior. I am “Up in spirit” in Advent season because I realize how blessed I am. Perhaps you are “Up,” as well? Our families, church family, friends, the comforts of home etc. all help us to be “Up.” We should be “Up” because God has given us the ability to see our blessings in profound clarity. A life centered on relationship and commitment to Christ is a hopeful “Up,” life. It’s a take the bad things and find the goods things in it kind of life. It’s a life that works to be, part of the solution rather than being part of the problem.

Advent is the time when we reflect on life balance and our faith. Seeing the world in true perspective is very much the way of Christ like living. Calling out the bad and exalting the good is being a faithful follower of Christ. Standing ready to be an example of hope is foundational to who we are. Spreading the good news of hope that, “help is on the way,” underlays the Advent season. The people of Christ see joy in balance with sorrow. For those that have yet to connect with Christ the worries of their lives can be overwhelming. Hope is in vital need to be shared and shared and shared again. Inviting others to flip their mindset from negativity into one of positivity is the great commission’s call upon us. A turkey, a pair of mittens, a hug, and just sharing the moment with another are all signs that hope lives beyond their despair.

It is little gifts of ourselves to others that speak to the heart of hope. Something better exists within everyone’s reach. Giving is as healing as receiving. Generosity can overcome meanness. Advent is a time of joyous tension. Advent is the collision of reality and promise. The promise of God to help us with the complexity of our lives. We mourn but yet we rejoice. We all lack but we all gain. We suffer yet we persevere. Into our lives a child of hope arrives and see the promise of tomorrow. God is here, God has always been here. We celebrate our faith and we share the good news. Come Lord Jesus, come.

Have blessed Christmas season.

Pastor Mark