Advent Is Here

Advent Is Here 2015

“Advent is here.” What a curious statement about experiencing a season which anticipates the arrival of that which is yet to come. Yet, that is exactly what can be said among Christians four Sundays before Christmas, even as Advent commences a season of waiting, watching, hoping and expecting.

Advent is marked by distinct characteristics.

Advent is a time of anticipation, not merely for long-desired special presents, but, most importantly, for a long-awaited Messiah. So, allow yourself some extra, built-up hope this Advent season. Remember, the stronger the hope on the climb up the mountain, the more stunning the vista on top of the mountain.

Advent is, of course, an occasion for devotion. In the color of purple (and in some cases blue) displayed throughout church sanctuaries, in the Advent wreaths lit each week during worship, in the particularly beautiful music which attends this holy season, devotion to God and compassion toward others are central themes. The traditions of our Advent observances call us to devote ourselves afresh to a closer personal communion with God and a vibrant embodiment of God’s ways on the earth.

Advent is always about God as a virtuoso. God, the virtuoso, tenders to the world the gift of a fragile and meek baby who is, at the same time, the ultimate incarnation of might and power. God, the virtuoso, inspires hope in lowly peasant shepherds, humbles the haughty and the prideful, and surprises the world with an ultimate expression of love and care.

Advent is always and ever electrifying …. and educating, energizing, ennobling, emboldening, encouraging, enticing, enthralling, enthusing, engaging, edifying, and eye-opening.

Advent is ever and again about the new. New truths transform old possibilities into new realities for any one stuck in tired, worn-out ways. A new beginning on the church calendar starts us on a new journey of faith. Anticipating a newborn Christ child makes life brand new for each child of God.

Advent is, of course, about truth. God tells the world a supreme truth in a baby whose birth-sounds in a hamlet called Bethlehem will resound throughout the world. Because of the truth of the Loving One, the world can begin to put away pretense and sham, masks and masquerades, duplicity and deception. In the season of Advent, God is coming to us in Christ to reveal the ultimate truths about our world and about ourselves.

May those who are on the road to Bethlehem experience the deepest and dearest Advent ever in anticipation of the deepest and dearest Christmas ever.

– Bob Hill

 

A Thanksgiving Prayer – Nov. 26, 2015

I offer this Thanksgiving Prayer for common use, individually and among families and friends, for our Thanksgiving meals wherever we may gather. Alongside the situations that challenge us to new expressions of courage and dedication, we still have so much for which to be thankful.

 

God of one and God of all,

we pray Your holy blessing

      on those who gather with gratitude

          around thanksgiving tables,

here and everywhere,

     families reunited

          and friends made welcome and glad.

 

For Your provision,

      prodigal in its abundance,

we are thankful.

 

For the life we enjoy

      and the living we would dare,

we are thankful.

 

For the hopes engendered,

      here and beyond,

we are thankful.

 

And we remain grateful still

for yet more blessings:

      Your strength among us;

      Your love within us;

      Your peace when we pray and when we play,

           in our work and in our rest,

           in our dreams and in our jests.

 

With deep thanksgiving, then,

      we pray for Your lasting,

          shining shalom on all this day. Amen.

 

– Bob Hill