December 2020

"The Advent season is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth."

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I look at tradition as an embodiment of customs and belief systems handed down from one generation to another. These customs and belief systems are designed to help preserve the authenticity of symbols, rituals, and meanings conveyed through traditions that help us connect with the past, better understand the present, and forge a way forward.

As you know, Christian tradition has unique symbols, rituals, and meanings, which help us experience and sense the presence of the Holy. Our liturgical calendar helps us to value the Christian traditions and seasons that help bring meaning to our faith. These seasons have sustained us in constructing the language of faith to express and appreciate the Christian tradition. With each cycle of these seasons we are invited to move closer to what God calls us to be. Advent is one of the seasons that speak deeply to me.

Advent prompts me to reexamine my faith journey and all the responsibilities that come with the knowledge of God’s love and grace. At the same time, Advent reminds me of the need to wait patiently, trust God, and prepare myself for the coming of the Messiah, Emmanuel – God with us. Advent assures me that God is ever-present in the world. With its profound symbols and meaningful traditions, Advent connects us with the first Advent. Through the Advent season, we are reminded of our deep connection with the One who came to unite humanity with God. For us Advent is not just a recurring Christian season, but a way of life. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘our whole life is an Advent season.’ Hence, our faith in God calls us to live a life of Advent, a life that proclaims the birth of the Messiah who is always Emmanuel – God with us. We are called to demonstrate the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love that comes with contemplating what true Advent is all about.  

The writer of the gospel of Luke, in the New Testament, has articulated pretty well what true Advent is and why Jesus came into the world. Luke 4: 18 says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach 

deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, and to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Our waiting and preparations for the coming of the Messiah will be useless if we don’t tap into why Jesus came into the world. Let the symbols and rituals that accompany the Advent season speak to you in a more meaningful way. Allow them to stir your faith, and to remember that Christ came to set the captive free, to bring sight to the blind, to set at liberty those that are bruised. Let the notion of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love that we talk about during Advent motivate you to identify yourself with these Advent ideals.

Let this Advent season, and the seasons that follow, move you to pray for the Spirit of God to renew our Church and conform us to the right image of God. Let’s take time to reflect and pray for an end to the violence and evil that are so prevalent today in our world. Let this be a time to empty ourselves before God and cry out to the One who is coming as we name all the evils taking away the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love of the world. As we look forward to the coming year, let us remember that God is with us no matter what and that our whole life is an Advent season. Let the knowledge of God’s word inspire us as people and as Church to more fully become what God wants us to be in this town of ours.

I pray that as we wait and celebrate the season of Advent, Christmas, and New Year, God will bring Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in your life.

Stay blessed, and see you soon.

-Pastor Ezra