December 2012

Post date: Nov 27, 2012 5:33:30 PM

Winter is coming: Christ is here!

By December many of us do some serious winter preparation. We may get new wiper blades for the car and put on the studded tires. We put the tire chains in the trunk and a blanket and ice scraper in the vehicle. We cover the outside faucets and dig out the coats and hats and gloves and boots. We put the snow shovels and ice melt by the door. We may get the furnace checked and change the furnace filters. We don’t know when the cold and snow of winter will come, but it will come. So the wise thing to do is be prepared.

In the church year, December is the season of Advent and Christmas. Advent means “the coming”. And the watchwords during Advent are watch and prepare. We hear the prophetic voice of John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Luke 3:4-6. Jesus is God’s salvation for us.

Many, many outward preparations for the celebration of Christmas happen in December. But John the Baptist calls us to the bigger task of preparing our hearts, our minds, our lives for the Lord Jesus. We certainly prepare to celebrate Christ’s first coming among us as the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. This is his soft and sweet coming and the miracle of the incarnation: God in human flesh for our salvation. But the gospel readings in Advent also call us to prepare and watch for Christ’s second coming: his glorious return to complete the kingdom of God on earth. We know not when this will be. The Mayan calendar says the world will end in December of 2012. Don’t hold your breath. We cannot know when Christ will fully return, but we can live lives of faith toward God and loving service to our neighbors in need. This is probably the best way to watch and prepare. This is also Christ’s “3rd Coming”: his constant presence with us in the here and now in Christian community and in care for our world and neighbors. The Holy Spirit makes this possible.

The first Sunday of December and Advent is the beginning of a new church year: the year of Luke. That is to say, most of our gospel readings this year will be from Luke, just like most of the gospel readings in the past year were from Mark. Luke is sometimes called “The Gospel to the Poor.” In Luke, Jesus is born as a peasant boy and is frequently helping poor people and eating with them. This is a great way for us as followers of Jesus to celebrate Emmanuel: which means “God with us.”

Serving Christ and neighbor with you,

Pastor Dennis