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 The season of Advent, the beginning of the Christian New Year, can be a challenging one for the church on a couple of levels. For one, the spiritual purpose of the Advent season, to reflect on and repent for the things that cause us to need a savior, is at odds with the frenzied way we have come to spend those four weeks under the influence of our consumer culture. We rush forward through the season, sweeping our sins under the rug as we focus eagerly on the celebratory aspects of Christmas Day.

 For another, the scriptures we traditionally read during Advent ask us to do two things at once. The Old Testament readings and the Psalms generally ask us to stop and look back at the longed-for promises of God made through history that are about to be fulfilled in the coming of Christ as a baby. The Gospel and Epistle readings generally ask us to look beyond this first coming of Christ to the second coming, the coming of Christ as judge and final victor over sin and death. We are confronted with living in the “now” and the “not yet” of Christ’s reign. This confrontation comes also with a sense of urgency to be prepared because we don’t know the day or hour when Christ will come to judge our faithfulness.

 As we wrap up the fall season of stewardship and reflect on the building campaign, it may feel to us in this Advent season like we’re just living in the “not yet” and still waiting for the fulfillment of our longings for a new day in the life of the church. As Barry Loy’s article in this newsletter reports, we have not yet met our fundraising goal, and we do not yet know how or when our vision will be realized.

 Our challenge as a church this Advent is to live gracefully with the “not yet” while gratefully claiming the “now.” With gratitude, we can celebrate the gifts and assets we have now. With the sense of urgency appropriate to the season, we can cooperate with God and each other to put those gifts and assets to work transforming lives in our community now. As Jesus Christ came into this world to show God’s love in the here and now, so can we go into our community to show through our actions, “We’re here and we care.”

 As we journey together through these four weeks to the birth of Jesus and the joy of Christmas Day, I invite you to use this season for its spiritual purpose. Take time to revel in the beautiful traditions of the season, savor the familiar scriptures and songs, and take time to reflect on both the first and second coming of Christ. As you look forward to the new year, I invite you to be in prayer with me about our intentions, as a church and as individuals, to participate in God’s intention to redeem this broken world. I pray that each of you will experience all the hope, peace, joy, and love that is promised to us in God’s gift of his Son, Jesus.

Blessings,

Pastor Jane