Enjoying the Journey
It is hard to believe that Advent is upon us once again. As we enter this season of lights, trees, celebrations, and lots of food, what often gets lost is appreciation for the time. Most of us never stop and think about the journey that we take during the season of Advent as we approach Christmas. It is such a busy time for preparing for the next event or getting the next present that we don't really slow down.
Originally, Advent was a season of preparation like Lent. It was a time of fasting and discipline as one readied one's self for the coming of Christ. It certainly is not that anymore. In a season that is known for the flashy next thing (which I think is going to be a baby Yoda from "The Mandalorian"), we all get caught up in the glitz and the glam (and the copious amounts of Hallmark movies).
This year, we are going to be going on a journey that is not unlike what we would do during Lent and try to slow down our time together. We will be asking the question that all of us have asked particularly as children, "Are we there yet?" Don't we want to speed up this season and get to the main day and not take time and enjoy the scenery along the way? Have you ever noticed more around you when you are not the one that is driving the vehicle? I know that when someone else drives on a long journey I notice much more of what I miss when I am focused on the destination ahead. I think if we take the time to enjoy the journey, we won't miss out on so much of what God is providing for us in preparation for the coming of Christ.
We will be going off the traditional themes of each Sunday in Advent: peace, hope, joy, faith (trust). Every Sunday we will be exploring what these themes mean within the context of the coming of Christ. How does Christ bring these themes to life in our world today? My hope is that if we just slow down a little and take the time to enjoy what is happening around us, we might catch more of a glimpse of what God is up to.
Starting Off the New Year
Here we are starting another year together. It is amazing that the year 2020 is finally here. We will be hearing things all year long that will play off of that theme. "It's the Roaring ‘20's!" Or "This year will be clear because it's 2020." I'm sure there will be many more puns around this year that we will all be anticipating. But as you begin this year, we are also beginning a new decade. It's hard to believe that we are starting the third decade of the new century. There will be much change that is anticipated especially as we enter General Conference in April and Annual Conference in June. The question is how will we start everything off.
As we begin this year, one of the things that we are going to be focused on is the fact that we are called to be saints of God. As we journey though the season of Epiphany, it is an opportunity for us to look at ways that the light of Christ that has been shown to us through the Christmas season can continue to shine in the life of every believer. "Epiphany" is a word that means "to reveal." We are the ones given the task to reveal Christ to the world and show his light to all we see.
We are going to spend some time with Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. As Paul begins this letter, he tells those who are reading it that they are called to be saints of God. What does that even mean? When we think of the saints we think of people who have an extraordinary faith and who did incredible, selfless acts before God and the world. But we are all called to be saints. A saint is not someone that we put the word "saint" in front of. A saint is a person who believes and trusts in Christ. When you look in the mirror every morning, you are looking at a saint.
So in order to start this new year and this new decade off on the right foot, we are going to learn what it means for us to be saints of God and called of him to be the light of Christ in the world during this Epiphany season. What if being a saint of God just simply means that we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ and sharing that so that the world around can be transformed into his likeness, too? This sounds like a hard task, which it is, but with God's help, it is possible. I invite you to join with me as we learn how to be a saint in the world we live in and live out our call to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.