Greetings in Christ!
This week, as we remember the call of Isaiah and John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord, I am thankful for all the preparations you as the members of Christ Lutheran have made for the coming year. We passed a budget, planned for new projects, and have begun to interview candidates for the new Parish Administrator. Your preparation for God's work in this place is a blessing to me, and I give thanks for you.
+ The Church Council will meet at 6pm this Tuesday at the Pastor's House (1302 4th Street). Parking is available either out front or in the gravel driveway just off of Carter Street.
+ Lectionary Study/Worship Prep is Tuesday night at 7pm at the Pastor's House. Parking is available either out front or in the gravel driveway just off of Carter Street.
+ On Sunday December 21st, we will have Lunch and Luminaries! Bring a dish to share as we create the luminaries for Christmas Eve, and teach the new pastor how to make these wonderful signs of light!
+ The Organ Concert has been scheduled for January 3rd at 3pm. Join us for performance pieces by Tim Brower as well as hymns led by Rosemary Anderson and Pastor Tucker.
+ This week, Sunday School at 9:45am will continue with the theme of "Who is Jesus?" We will discuss the importance of the Chrismons to this process, and decorate the Chrismon Tree as part of our time together.
This coming Sunday in Advent is Joy Sunday, where we make the turn from God's prophecy and the work of preparation for the Messiah to our anxious expectation, our joyful anticipation of Emmanuel, God with us.
For all too many people, though, these are hard times to be joyful. My grandmother died just before Christmas while I was in college, and just a few years ago, my grandfather followed suit. For some, this will be the first Christmas without loved ones, and it is hard to find joy as we still mourn our loss of those we loved dearly.
For others, Christmas is a reminder of poverty or illness. As we see pictures of extravagant meals or immaculate presents, others lament their inability to give comparable gifts. As we join together with our loved ones, others remain bound to hospital beds. It is difficult to find joy when we feel left behind by society.
Within these anxieties, the Psalmist speaks a word of hope: "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy" (126:5). These words eventually inspired Mary's Magnificat, where she cries, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has remembered his humble servant" (1:46-7).
The story of Christmas is about God descending into our anxieties to bring us joy, about coming alongside us in our mourning and our poverty and our illness, not only to proclaim a word of hope, but to accomplish the greatest deed of compassion: becoming human. God experiences anxiety and mourning and poverty and illness as one of us, and then lifts us up in the promise of redemption, of reconciliation, of renewal.
Joy Sunday, this third Sunday in Advent, is not necessary about feeling joyful right now, but about recalling the joy inherent to the story of God's incarnation. It is about rehearsing the good news of Jesus Christ and recalling that, in the midst of these very sorrows, there is at least a glimmer of good news. Within this darkness, there is a hint of light.
If you know someone who is struggling this season, remember that God did not just eradicate sadness, but instead came alongside us in our sadness and shared our tears. The hope of Christmas is born out of the manger where God shared our human struggles. Join that person and offer them a word of comfort, a shoulder to cry on, or a helping hand, with the simple reminder that God is working through us all to bring the hope of the Christ Child.
Finally, if you know someone who would benefit from a conversation with a pastor, please feel free to give them my information. As someone who knows the struggle of joy in this season, I can not only offer a word of hope from the pastor's office, but a word of compassion from personal experience.
Check my blog - www.friartucker.org - on Thursday for more rumination about Advent and this week's readings.
Grace and peace,
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