Greetings dear friends,
“Advent” simply means “beginning of” or “arrival of” or something “coming to pass”. Like so many things in the Church, it comes from a Latin word. I’ve never been a big fan of advent personally. I don’t particularly like decor of any kind. If something exists for a purely aesthetic reason, and serves no practical purpose, I rarely see any value in it. The idea of Tanglewood traffic gives me a head ache. WMAG blasting “Christmas” music since October gives me hives. Going shopping at Friendly Center in Greensboro makes me short of breath, and the commercials – o the commercials – give me chest pain. Several years ago, a beautiful soul gave me a “ba humbug” stocking cap. I love it dearly, and many of you think of me as a bit of a Scrooge. I accept that. Just a few weeks ago, I was given a Grinch tie; I’ll undoubtedly find a time to wear it in December, even though Tanner Moore has assured me that I’m more of an Ebenezer than a Grinch. Apparently, just because I have no joy doesn’t mean I want to steal anyone else’s, haha!
Anyway, one paragraph should suffice for me to rail against the commercialization of this advent season. For the past several years, the month of December has been a rather stressful time for me personally, because of all the moving musical parts at First Baptist Church – have I told you lately how thankful I am for Max? We haven’t yet made it through the Toy Store or a candle-lit service, so I may be writing WAY too soon, but I am a bit surprised how little stress I have this time around!
I am excited to get to preach every Sunday, but I am really excited about our advent sermon series this year. I confess – Max is still perturbed at me – that I’m not sure how I’ll conclude it after Christmas, but between now and Christmas I so look forward to God showing up in our midst. The spirit of advent, historically, is one of expectancy and eager anticipation. Obviously, we know that the Christ was born; there will be no new news this year. We do, however, if we look and listen closely, encounter this λογος – this Word – this divine revelation, in a new way. This is why we eagerly wait for God to show up in a fresh way! We wait, with baited breath for Him to speak to us, to draw us closer unto Himself! In a sense, it’s good to be on pins and needles, filled with expectation. Join me in praying that God will reveal Himself to us in a new way this advent season. Join me in praying that some way, some how, we will have an opportunity to share the great Good News of salvation with someone this advent season that has never heard it before!
As we eagerly await the celebration of the coming of the Messiah, let’s also remember our neighbors for whom this is a very difficult season. Lots of our neighbors don’t have much to celebrate. Many of them have an empty chair around the table this year, perhaps for the first time. In a season of high stress and grief for many, let’s all remember to treat others with an extra dose of patience and grace. Let’s also lift up in prayer those for whom it’s a sad season. Let me encourage you to go out of your way to make a personal touch and bless someone near you. In doing so, we will be sharing our joy where it is most needed. May the peace of Christ invade our church family this season in a profound way. May we have a renewed awe and wonder of how much He loves us. John 1:14
Born to set Thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us;
let us find our rest in Thee.
Rev. Andrew J. Reynolds