Pastor's Musings

December 2023


“The dark is not an end. It’s a door.
It’s the way a new beginning comes.”

-Gayle Boss

             Celebrating Advent means being able to wait. Waiting in an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it is hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often the hungry and veracious eyes are only fooled; the fruit that seemed so delectable is still green on the inside, and disrespectful hands toss aside what has so disappointed the taste buds. As Detrich Bonhoffer once wrote, “Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting – that is, of hopefully doing without – will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment.”
             This year Advent begins with a profound sense of the absence of God. Where is God when mass shootings ravage the land; war rages in Gaza & Ukraine with no end in sight; children around the world starve; migrants flee oppression and poverty; and a superheated planet breeds floods, fires and deadly storms? Where is God when justice for the downtrodden and the marginalized seems far away, when hate crimes are rampant, and people refuse to treat one another as human beings? Where is God in the chaos that we see daily unfolding around us?
             Advent is the season of longing for God. For only God can bridge the gap between the way things are and the way God intends them to be. Advent begins with this impassioned cry for God, “O that you would rend the heavens and come down.” (Isaiah 64:1), and then it speaks of the ways in which God has acted, God acts today, and God will act at the end of time.
             The pivotal moment of God’s action takes place in an insignificant town in Galilee when the angel Gabriel startles a young girl with the news that she will be the mother of Jesus, the Son of the Most High God. William Butler Yeats captures both the mystery and the terror of that moment in his poem,

“The Mother of God”
What is this flesh I purchased with my pains,
This fallen star my milk sustains,
This love that makes my heart’s blood stop
Or strikes a Sudden chill into my bones
And bids my hair stand up?

             No longer do we need look to the heavens in suspense. God has acted decisively in the birth of Jesus. From that moment, the scriptures reflect on the identity and meaning of Jesus’ life and mission. The theological high point of that reflection is found in the Prologue of John which speaks of Jesus as the incarnate Word of God. “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” When the Word is made flesh, the creation is transformed. The divine invades and unites with the world of space, time, and matter and everything is both different and the same.
             In an Advent sermon from years ago Pastor John Stromer shares, “Advent is an awesome experience of God getting in touch with human beings.” I like that description of Advent! So often we think of Advent as a time when we get ourselves ready for the coming of the Christ child and the festivities of Christmas. The problem with such a view is that often blinds us to what God is already doing in our lives to prepare our hearts for his entry into the human experience. Would that we had the eyes and ears and inner sensitivity t perceive God’s activity in our lives at every moment of the day, especially as we begin preparation to celebrate the birth of God’s Son-Jesus Christ our Lord.
             The season of Advent is a time to prepare, not for more hectic activity, but to remember the Christ child who came to join in the adventure we call human existence. In Advent we take time to ponder the miracle that God actually assumed our humanity and was born and entered our world in order to make possible the restoration of all things. To bring up there down here.
             So while we will, no doubt, be caught up in all the hurried activity of the holiday season this year, let us also take time this Advent to prepare our hearts to welcome once again the God who laid aside divine privilege and assumed our humanity because of his great love for the world and everything in it. There are few truths in this world that are more wonderful, more startling, more exciting than this.

A Blessed Advent to All,
Your Fellow Pilgrim On the Journey, 

Pastor Greg