Dear People of Trinity Church, God’s peace be with you!
We’ve now entered into Advent, a time where we are called to be alert, watch, prepare, and wait for the Lord. While we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth, with worship, songs, decorations, and a Christmas pageant, we know that the world around us continues to be in turmoil. If you leave the news on even for 5 minutes, it can be overwhelming.
Furthermore, with the results of the election in, I have seen and heard awful things coming from people, things I would never expect. I have seen friends turn against friends and family members cut down other family members, especially on social media. When we are separated from others by a computer screen or by our own barriers, it seems so much easier to condemn and criticize and label, without any sort of listening.
How are we as Christians supposed to be alert, watch, prepare, and wait for the Lord, when our very lives feel so frantic? We can each disconnect from social media and talk with people face-to-face. Invite someone with whom you have not spoken in a while to lunch or coffee. Introduce yourself to someone at coffee hour, especially if you’ve never seen or spoken to them before. Take the time for quiet, as I discussed in last month’s Genesis article. Connect with family members over a new tradition, such as a nightly Advent devotional or serving a meal to a family in need. Create space to listen for God.
As the words of Isaiah and the popular Advent hymn say, “Comfort, comfort, ye my people.” Like the context in which these words were first spoken, as the Israelites were returning home after the Babylonian exile, we, too, may find them helpful now. In the midst of such a busy time of year and so much chaos in the nation and world around us, we need the reassurance that God is in control and is with us all. This season is the perfect time to renew our faith and trust in God, not in human hands.
This does not mean we sit passively as we await the Lord’s return. When we feel that the two greatest commandments from our Lord (love God and love your neighbor) are being tested, we must stand up for God and for our brothers and sisters, including those in generations to come. Yet, everything we do, we are to do in love. Not out of fear or anger or a need to retaliate. No, as Christians, we are to be known by our love.
That love is what we await this Advent season, the love that came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, the love that was poured out for us upon the cross. As we watch for Christ’s return, may we all seek to share the love of Christ now wherever we go and with whoever we meet.
The Rev. Rachel Rickenbaker