November 27, 2017
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
[Psalm 80:19 NRSV]
Welcome to Advent! We have survived "Black Friday," and now we dive headlong into the shopping season. For the world, this season of Advent has become a whirlwind of charity drives, jewelry commercials, consumer guilt, family pressures, and worries about money drowned out by promises of incredible interest-free financing for 18 months.
For the Christian, however, Advent is a time of anticipation, a time of hope, a time of new beginnings as we raise the curtain on another church year.
When I served in the parish, one of my greatest joys was the publication of an annual Advent devotional developed by the members of the congregation. They wrote the reflections based on the readings taken from the daily lectionary. I tried to do my own version last year, but failed miserably for lack of time. They are still available on my blog, " Walking together in Faith."
A couple of you have sent me your congregation's devotionals, either electronically or a hard copy. I am grateful for them. Please know that I do read them. There are days that I will sit and read one straight through. That's not supposed to be how it's done, but when I receive more than one, it's the only practical solution to getting them read.
Devotionals have a purpose during the Advent season - to help us slow down, to create in us a sense of balance, a clear perspective on who we are - creatures made and loved by God. They also give us the time and space once again to believe in and live out the reality that Christ will come again.
Advent makes me think of the hit song of the 70's by singer/songwriter Carly Simon, "Anticipation."
We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway...
It became the soundtrack to a popular ketchup commercial with the tagline, "The taste that's worth the wait."
Amid the impatience, the mayhem and the brokenness of the world we live in, our hope is in the Lord. Though we don't know when he will return, we hold on to that hope. And Jesus counsels us in the Gospel reading for this coming Sunday, "Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come."
This Advent, may we live confident in God's promises that our lives are in God's care.
On Monday evening, I will meet with the congregational council of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Newcomerstown as they prepare for the call process.
Wednesday morning, I will be with the students of Messiah Lutheran School in Fairview Park to preach at their weekly Chapel service.
Friday, December 1, at 11:00 a.m., I will be at Peace Lutheran Church in Ashland where I will preside at the funeral of Pastor Ted Grotjohn, who entered the Church Triumphant on Thanksgiving morning in Mansfield. A full obituary will appear later today. All clergy are invited to vest and process.
With deep sadness we also inform you that Pastor Ted Oswald died on Wednesday, November 22 in Alliance. A memorial service is pending.
Saturday, December 2, at 11:00 a.m., I will be at First Lutheran Church of Lorain, as together with its members, we will joyfully dedicate their new church building. As you may recall, on August 28, 2014, the church building was destroyed by fire. Since then, the good people of First have worshiped in various school buildings while a new church structure was built. The new building is about half a block from the old location.
And Sunday, December 3, I will be with the people of God at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Canfield as we begin the season of Advent.
This week and always, may the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, enrich you in speech and knowledge of every kind, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift and his testimony is strengthened in you.
[Blessing based on 1 Corinthians 1:4-6]
+Bishop Abraham Allende