The Advent season begins November 27th. Celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, November 27th by making an Advent Arrangement for your home. This activity is for all ages and will take place between services at 10:15 am in the Fellowship Hall. Each family will design their own arrangement complete with LED candle to take home and enjoy in the weeks before Christmas. An Advent Devotion booklet will also be provided. Please let Martha R. know by November 20th if you would like to participate so there are enough supplies (firstname.lastname@example.org). Celebrate the days upcoming to Jesus’ birth and the meaning of Advent with a hand-made arrangement to teach and remind us of the beauty of this season.
Join us tonight and Dec. 17 at 6:30 pm for a half-hour of evening worship. On Dec. 10, we will hear Isaiah speak of and point out the favor of God. What does it look like; how will we experience it? We will sing “Rejoice, O Pilgrim Throng.”
Looking for a unique gift for your loved one this Christmas season? Do you want to make a difference in your community? Sponsored by the ELCA Metro D.C. Synod, the 2014 Gifts of Hope Catalog contains 39 gifts with prices ranging from $10-250. These gifts support mission and programs of Lutheran social service organizations, camps, colleges, seminaries and Companion Synods abroad.
Find the catalog in your congregation during Advent and year-round at the updated www.giftsofhopedc.org website. Use the provided Christmas card to describe your selected gift to a loved one. Your purchases will bring hope to other while honoring those on your gift list. (Submitted by Carolyn Sowinski, director, Gifts of Hope)
Mark your calendars for Saturday, Dec. 6 for the Annual Hanging of the Christmas Greens Brunch and Decorating party sponsored by the Altar Teams at Good Sam. This is a fun-filled opportunity to enjoy fellowship and kick off the Christmas season with joy. Brunch will start at 8:30 am. We welcome a brunch dish to share. Contact: Sue V. or Nancy S.
When Moses meets God in the burning bush (Exodus 3) on Mount Horeb, he asks, “When I go to the Israelites, who shall I say has sent me to them?” God answers, “Tell them ‘I am that I am’ has sent you to them.” We say God is the great “I AM!” The Hebrew phrase is difficult to translate. It actually means “I am,” “I have been,” and “I will be.”
This same multi-layered nature of God is alive and active in Christ Jesus. We say in the Communion liturgy, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” It’s as though the past has a present and future expression and together they make up the full meaning of the name of God and the life of Jesus.
As December begins and we move toward Christmas, we celebrate the season of Advent. Advent means coming. So in Advent we celebrate Christ’s coming. But as we celebrate this coming, it would be insufficient to say we are remembering Jesus’ birth only. A part of this “coming” character of Jesus is that Jesus is still coming to us. He comes these days to us personally: redeeming and strengthening us in faith, and he comes to us in community as he builds the church and gathers together those who have received the Holy Spirit. And still this is not all that we mean by the advent of Christ. Jesus has also promised that he will come again in the final days as King and Judge of the living and the dead.
So when we celebrate Advent and Christ’s coming, we almost always mean all three expressions and realities. We remember his coming as a child in Bethlehem, we pray for his entering into our lives today, and we lift up our eyes to watch for the day when he will come again. This is the full meaning of Advent. And where Christ’s advent happens – all three of these realities are alive and present. For how Christ came two thousand years ago is intimately connected to how Christ comes into our lives today. And how Christ has come to us personally today is also intimately connected to how Christ will come in the last days. Happy watching and waiting for the Advent of Christ.
It continues to amaze me how there are many small vignettes in the scriptures which have great potential to open us to what it means to be in relationship with God’s coming. Re-reading the Christmas story from Luke recently reminded me of Simeon’s story (Luke 2:25-35). Here is an old man whose life revolves around the Temple of God and the irony of Israel’s oppression by the Romans. He earnestly yearns for the day when God’s people will be free of this oppression. Here is a man who knows his earthly days are dwindling. Here is a man who clings to faith and a word from God. In his heart God has promised that Simeon will see the Lord’s Anointed One before he dies. This means that Simeon will be able to see and greet the one who will bring the liberation of Israel. Upon seeing the child Jesus, all the tumblers fall into place, the Spirit leaps within Simeon, and the faithfulness of God is evident and trustworthy right before his eyes.
I think this means that he is now soon to depart this world, but I think it also means that Simeon is also at peace and rests in great confidence that God’s working will not delay long. It is imminent, and for that his heart rejoices without reserve.
It makes me think about the things for which I wait and long and hope. For what do you wait? Where might God be in the things for which you wait? How can we become hungry and passionate about the coming activity of God? This kind of thinking and behaving is very much the work of Advent.
For us these days, we have seen the Messiah’s coming (2000 years ago) and we have learned about the imminent presence of God in Christ, the Emmanuel—God with us. And now too we wait his coming again in power to bring the kingdom of God in its fullness.
Perhaps we too can move to a space of heart and mind where we eagerly await God’s activity as Simeon does. Have you gotten to the place of faith where you anticipate or watch for activity that is like the hand of God touching your life and hope? Come and join us in this space and heart of worship in Advent. And come, Lord Jesus. Come!