Pastors Letter: November
Advent: here and coming again
In churches that follow the liturgical calendar, November 29th was the first day of the Christian year in 2020 and the beginning of Advent. While not all denominations observe Advent per se, most Christians share a belief in what Advent symbolizes - both the coming of Jesus 2,000 years ago and his coming again in the future. Historically as a church, Christ Community follows a modified liturgical calendar.
Advent takes its name from the Latin Adventus Domini, which means, "the coming of the Lord," and it looks at the Lord's coming in two time frames: First, the season commemorates the time before Jesus' birth when people were waiting for a messiah.
Second, it highlights that at the present time, the church is waiting expectantly for the return of Jesus. Thus, in Advent-speak, we are currently living "between the advents," and Christians are encouraged to use Advent as a time to prepare their hearts for the coming of the Lord^
As that return has not yet happened, Christians can be said to be living in a time between the two advents of Jesus: Christmas and the Second Coming.
But there's a certain oddity about Advent. It marks the beginning of the church year, and so logically, we would expect the story to begin with the time before Christ, the Old Testament period when the faithful anticipated the arrival of the Messiah, the One whose coming we celebrate in the liturgical season that follows — Christmas.
However, because of the second focus of Advent -- Christ's second coming — it's as if the church comes to the world saying, "We have a wonderful story for you, but before we tell you how it starts, we're going to tell you how it ends."
For the Christian faith only makes sense when you know how the story comes out. Confidence and hope, both hallmarks of Christianity, are pointless if the end of the story is tragedy. But they are fully justified if at the end God wins.
And that's precisely what Advent proclaims. This year especially Advent reminds us of the hope we always have. Whatever agonies and hard times our world may go through, however much life may be viewed as a struggle between good and evil, in the end, God wins. In addition — and this is vitally important — those who are faithful to God in this life stand with the Victor. Whatever pains and losses we may experience in our lives, they never have the final word. God does, and to those who cling to him, that word is gracious.
Take time and wait for the Lord to come to you afresh this season. He is closer to us than we know. Open yourself up and let our God calm your weary soul and fill you with hope.
Altar A. Ego
Message of Mirth
I’m going to share a few smiles to get us into the proper frame of mind for the Christmas season.
Charles Dickens wrote: It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than as Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.
The reader on a Sunday morning read Matthew 2:11 This way: And they presented Him gifts of gold, frankincense and MIRTH. (we need more of that this year.)
Thomas Merton wrote: There were only a few shepherds at the first Bethlehem. The ox and the ass understood more of the first Christmas than the high priests in Jerusalem. And it is the same today. (Oh listen to the Tel-evangelists.)
The Wise Men were truly wise men. Unlike most men, they stopped to ask for directions. (Obviously written by a woman.)
A Blooper in a church Christmas bulletin read:’ The choir will sing “I heard the BILLS on Christmas Day.”
Erma Bombeck wrote, I bought my Christmas cards last January. I just can’t find them.
Dear Santa: Last Christmas I asked you for a baby sister. This Christmas I want you to take her back. (Sounds like an older brother to me.)
A young pastor giving the children’s sermon remarked: “Bethlehem was a real small town. In fact, it was so small, I’ll bet they didn’t even have a Pizza Hut. One spirited young man spoke up very seriously: “Maybe they had a Little Caesar’s.” (He was from Michigan.)
A pastor wrote: The message of Christmas is that we should never give up on God. He’s raised up drunks from the gutter and opened doors for the frustrated. Look for Him anywhere, but especially in your worst of times. God’s message at Christmas is that help is on the way. (Great message for those of us who are tired of the divisions caused by the election and the pandemic responses.)
One final one for the New Year: When you toss out the Christmas tree, be careful you don’t throw out the Christmas spirit with it.
Yours, praying we are all filled anew with mirth, music, memories; hope, humor, health; love; laughter and praise,
Altar A. Ego
(Special thanks for Cal and Rose Samra’s book More Holy Humor)