Happy New Year! With this Advent we begin a new year in the life of the church. I like the way the church year runs. We have All Saints Day, where we remember all the people who have influenced us and guided us, and give thanks that part of them that lives on in us, and we remember that we are still surrounded by such a “great cloud of witnesses.”
And we have Thanksgiving, when we stop to reflect on all the blessings in our lives, and to be thankful, and to share our blessings with others. If we’re lucky it’s also a time to gather together with family and friends and delight in the warmth of shared companionship and memories.
Then comes Advent, the time of blessed waiting, when we know the Christ Child is coming. The music, the candles, the creche, the Chrismons, the evergreens, the poinsettias, and the other customs and traditions, all help to instill the sense of wonder and expectation. If we are lucky we have found ways to separate ourselves from the madness of the Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays and find sanctuary in moments of reading, prayer, music or meditation. Perhaps there is even a favorite movie that brings us to a peaceful place.
I’ve always loved the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol because it is the one I first saw, as a child on television. Scrooge’s conversion touched me deeply, and Marley’s ghost’s speech: “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business.” made a lasting impression on me. Even my unchurched friends can relate.
So what are you waiting for this Advent? For what are you preparing? Is it a year dedicated to new spiritual practices? A new health regimen? A new outreach ministry? I know that with Emmanuel, God with us, you will not be alone and you will experience growth and success. It may not look like the project you originally designed, but it will be the one that God planned for you.
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
We thank you, dear God, that you do plan for our welfare, and that you give us a future with hope. No matter how grey the skies, how dark the clouds, we can depend on the ray of sun peeking out and assuring us of Your presence. We are never alone. Amen.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:5