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anticipation and hope

Advent is the beginning of the Church Year for most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve (Dec 24). If Christmas Eve is a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent, with Christmas Eve proper beginning at sundown.

The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. Scripture reading for Advent will reflect this emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment on sin, and the hope of eternal life.

In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. That acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people. So, as the church celebrates God’s inbreaking into history in the Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which “all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption,” it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Heavenly Father, during Advent,

may we remember the greatest gift ever given:

Your only Son, Jesus Christ.

Fill our hearts with joy day by day

as we think of our Savior

putting aside His heavenly glory and coming among us.

by Raymond A. Foss

thought for today

Hope Wrapped in Struggle

Hope isn’t an innate gift that some have and others don’t.  It’s nurtured as we strive to embody God’s love in the midst of overwhelming obstacles.  Hope energizes patient endurance and invites me to celebrate the seeds of God’s kingdom taking root.

– Susan Classen [Dewdrops on Spiderwebs Connections Made Visible]

three friends – one hour, one afternoon,

after church,
in Farmington, New Mexico
– in the 1950s –

subtle dance of grace

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Grace is subtle

Grace is the substance of love, forgiveness, and hope.

Mary L. Fraser writes that grace would be

“like mercy running across the planet,

from Darfur to Sri Lanka.”

Our Tasks

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“Our first task is to love one another, to be valiant for the truth upon the earth, and to remain attentive to the true spirit in all that we do. The second task is to minister to the suffering: the hungry, the poor, the lonely, the naked, the bruised and battered victims of all sorts of violence. A third task is that of listening to others. A fourth task is to delimit the domain of politics. A fifth task is to nurture hope in these times of darkness.”

Newton Garver

Until you spread your wings, you have no idea how far you can fly.

getting to the good place

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet,

enough trials to make you strong,

enough sorrow to keep you human,

enough hope to make you happy.

Quote of the Day

Hope begins in the dark,

the stubborn hope that if you just show up

and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.

You wait and watch and work:

You don’t give up.

– Anne Lamott