Dear First Pres,

   Have you decorated your home for Christmas? Our tradition is to put up the tree and other decor in the first few days after Thanksgiving. So our house now feels like Christmas again. To be honest, I’m usually not very excited about it when I’m going up and down the ladder to retrieve the Christmas boxes in our garage storage, but once it’s up (and especially this year), I am grateful for the daily reminder that we’re in a special season of the year. If you haven’t yet decorated, or if you don’t plan to, I encourage you to do something that serves as a tangible reminder to you of the Advent and Christmas season.

   For most of us, it’s a bittersweet experience. We are cheered by the Christmas music, the festive lights and the smell of pine boughs. But as we hang those old ornaments or set up the Nativity that used to belong to Grandma, we’re reminded of all the losses we’ve experienced in life. We’re reminded of all the pain that can also be associated with this season. And that’s important.

   Advent is a season to lean into the natural joy and pain of life. We celebrate that our Savior has been born to us, and we long for Him to bring His Kingdom in fullness. We are grateful that He has come, and we are hungry for Him to come again. We recognize the way He has saved us and changed us and transformed our lives - all worthy of great celebration. And we recognize the way the world is not as it should be, and neither are we. This tension is Advent.

   But it is a tension covered in Christian hope. This last Sunday, Gary VanBrocklin described hope as “expectant faith.” It is trusting that God will bring His plan of redemption to completion. It is believing that God is always at work for His good purposes in the world. It is having faith in the promises of God. If you’ve heard me talk about hope before, you know that my favorite definition of hope is confident expectation that God will do what God has promised to do in Christ Jesus.

   So, as we celebrate the goodness of God to send us the Savior, and as we experience the grief of a broken world, we also look forward to a time when “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:9).

   So, Beloved, don’t be afraid to lean into the season of Advent this year. There is something rich that the Holy Spirit wants to nurture in us: deeper faith, greater love, and abundant hope. When He does that, we become more and more the missionary people of our good and faithful God.

   May it be a blessed Advent for you. 


Pastor Jeremy