Dear Friends in Christ,
As we look ahead to the Advent season, we find ourselves grateful for the “extra” week we get this year because of the way the calendar falls. Many years, Advent begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but this year there is a week in between. It feels a bit like a reprieve as we head into the busiest season. Because isn’t that we all REALLY want for Christmas – time? Whether it’s more time to spend with family, more years to enjoy life, more time for travel and leisure, more time to dedicate to important work – we all have a limited supply of it and we all want more.
A long time member of this church named Mearl Guthrie knew a lot about time. When he retired, he had special business cards printed that read “Two great gifts: life and the time to do something with it.” On the card was the figure “168” which is the number of hours in a week. Nobody gets any more or any less. Mearl is no longer with us in body, but his message still speaks loudly.
For all of us, that little card poses an important question – how will we spend the time that is allotted to us? So much to do, so many needs to attend to, so many people calling for our attention – it can be overwhelming. The thing most of us find hardest to make time for is our interior and spiritual life. I’m reminded of what the reformer Martin Luther once said, “I have so much to do today, that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Most of us don’t approach our busy lives that way. There is great truth in Luther’s words, however, as we consider our lives as Christians. If we believe that we are beloved children of an almighty God, then surely we understand the importance of spending time listening for God’s will for our lives, laying our hours and days before God and asking for the help and guidance we need.
It’s hard to make the time – we know that. Advent is the beginning of the Christian year – the church’s “New Year” if you will – and so it is a good time for resolutions and new beginnings. In the ancient church, Advent was a time of deep spiritual reflection and renewal – a time for prayer and study – a time to draw closer to the God who loves us so much that, in Christ Jesus, he entered our world and became one of us. Without posting yet another item on your pre-Christmas “to do” list, may we suggest that you find ways to enhance your spiritual journey in the weeks ahead?
As you go about your holiday preparations, why not play some Christmas music (the good kind, not what’s blasted at us in stores) and think about the lyrics? When you hear “Joy to the World” think about the ways Christ’s coming into the world has brought a new and deeper kind of joy. Meditate on the “little town” of Bethlehem, and try to put yourself there in the Judean hillside, hearing the news of God’s incarnation. You get the idea. Sending Christmas cards this year? How about taking a moment to pray for each person as you send off your cards? Advent is filled with opportunities to stop, take a moment, and be in communion with God.
A concrete “addition” you may want to make to your Advent preparations is to sign up for the Daily Bible Verse and Reflection that Pastor MJ posts each day, The verse and reflection are posted on the church website and on Facebook page, but you may also choose to have a daily email sent to you. Simply notify the church that you would like to be added to the list.
One of our favorite carols gives the charge to “Let every heart prepare him room!’ May your Advent season be filled with a variety of opportunities to do just that.
We wish you grace and peace…and a merry Christmas to come!
Mary Jane & Gary