Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Advent is a time of expectation and waiting. While we wait with joyful anticipation for the coming of Jesus as a baby at Bethlehem our readings have us in tension with Jesus' return in glory at his second coming.
For many of us the weeks of December will be filled -- usually overfilled! -- with activities and family traditions. Our days are packed with festive preparations: buying presents, baking cookies and breads, preparing for guests, decorating trees, and perhaps even attending parties. So it can be disconcerting to find that when we arrive at church on Sundays in Advent we encounter not only hopeful signs of the birth of the baby Jesus but also sober warnings about judgment at the end of time and a call to "forsake our sins" in preparation for Jesus' second coming. We celebrate the light of Christ coming into the world -- but it comes to a world that is often broken and dark.
It is important to remember that Advent is not just a season in which we recall an event of the past-Jesus' birth-but also a time in which we look to the present and the future. When will Jesus come again? When will we see the kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven? Of course no one knows. And so the more important questions are: what can we do as the church, Christ's body here on earth, to bring about God's reign of justice and peace today? What can we do as individuals to reorder our lives, in the light of God's love? What would it mean to live as a people who believe in Jesus as the savior of all the earth and to expect him to come again at the fulfillment of time? I invite each of you this Advent to return to these questions anew.
I've heard from more than one person questioning our lack of Christmas Hymns and music during Advent. We are liturgical people and we journey through, on a yearly basis, the life and death of Jesus. Advent is not Christmas...Christmas and the 12 days after Christmas leading up to Epiphany is Christmas...so we sing Advent hymns and will sing Christmas Hymns on Christmas Eve and onward. It is a time for remembering and singing the words that will bring forth our Savior, to become more and more sensitive to the morning dew and to open my soul to the rain so that my inner self can bring forth the Savior.
Jesus, help us this Advent to renounce our sinful ways, and to open ourselves to your redemptive love."
In Christ's Love and Blessing this Advent and Christmas,
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