In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight'" (John 3:1-3).
Last week, our extended family celebrated Thanksgiving together with a wonderful feast followed by our annual tradition of a street hockey match (this year played in one of Trinity's parking lots!). Friday evening most everyone departed and Saturday morning, we woke to begin to prepare our house for the Christmas season.
There's always a balance for Christians as we prepare for Christmas...a balance between preparation that is consumeristic or excessive and one that celebrates the beauty, mystery, joy and generosity of the season. In fact, in many ways the music and decorations of the season can aid us in the preparation of our hearts to receive the Christ Child and anticipate his coming again.
"Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus" speaks to the yearnings of my heart for a different way, a way in which our world is somehow released from the fears and sins which bind us. Sitting in the stillness of the evening and gazing at the white lights on the tree reminds me that the light of Christ shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.
"Go Tell It on the Mountain" fills me with enthusiasm to shout from the rooftops that Jesus Christ is born.
It's then that the carols and decorations can prompt us to action. As we wait in this season of Advent, we can be intentional and our actions can help to shape our homes and communities to look more like a place ready to welcome Christ. It might be as simple as graciously opening the door for a harried shopper with arms full. It might be taking some Christmas cookies to that neighbor that you haven't yet met. It might be inviting your co-worker to come to one of the Christmas Eve services with you. It might be serving at one of the homeless shelters open on nights when the temperature drops low. It might be calling and extending grace to that family member with whom you have been estranged. Whatever it is that God is calling you to do, may your actions help prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight.
Just one final note, due to a glitch with our mailings, some of you only this week received your letter of invitation to pledge your financial commitment to Trinity for 2017. We invite you and all those who have not yet done so to bring your pledge card with you on Sunday and place it in the offering plates during worship. We are on our way toward undergirding our ministries for next year, and yet it will take all of us generously committing together to live into our mission to be a place where people can belong, become, and make a difference. I invite you to join me in making that vision a reality.
See you Sunday as we take a look at the power of hope (Isaiah 11:1-10).
Grace and Peace,