We began the season of Advent yesterday in worship … but we started to see Christmas in stores even before Halloween was over!
What does the rush of society around stir up in our soul?
Anxiety? Urgency? Fear?
I think one of the challenges of this season is to hold a sense of expectancy, without the anxiety, urgency and fear that can come with it.
I admit to falling into that trap with my daughter Toni’s pregnancy through October.
Since she went four and five weeks early with baby 2 and 3, we all figured she would deliver early.
So, for 4 weeks I was on high alert. It affected how I scheduled my day, and certainly threatened my sleep at night.
Good grief!!! I am not even the mom!!!
It is good to prepare and plan, and even anticipate. But doing these things with confidence and faith can be a challenge.
As Reinhold Niebuhr wrote in what we have come to call “the Serenity Prayer”
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Perhaps this can be our prayer today to begin the season of Advent
Matthew 24:36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, not the Son, but only the father.”peace and joyPastor Wendy
We hear the word “incarnation” often in the season of Advent. But what does it mean? The gospel of John opens with this:
“And the word became flesh and lived with us.” That is incarnation.
I am reading a devotional book by Richard Rohr through this season, and he makes the point that the first time God came among us was in creation.
Genesis 1 says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” It continues to say that as God created, God called everything good.
And then God breathed his very breath into the first humans. That, too, is incarnation! God is in everything and everyone around us – living with us –
Calling us good.
This makes us sacred.
This is a lot for us to contemplate today. God has come to live with and in us. We are sacred beings.
What does that mean for you today?peace and joyPastor Wendy
Blair and I watched a new TV series (based on an old story) last week. Other than the story of women in baseball, there is an underline story of women learning and accepting who they are. We all struggle from time to time, learning and accepting who we are. It is important to learn from one another. It is important to listen to our parents and teachers and those in authority as we mature into adulthood. It is important to listen to doctors and nurses when seeking medical advice. But it is also important to know and accept who we are as a precious child of God.
Richard Rohr, in his book “Universal Christ” says “Faith at its essential core is accepting we are accepted. We cannot deeply know ourselves without also knowing that One who made us, and we cannot fully accept ourselves without accepting God’s radical acceptance of every part of us.”
Psalm 139 declares “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” If God made you – God loves you!
You are wonderfully and beautifully made! Rejoice in that.
Accept that you are accepted!peace and joyPastor Wendy
We know how Jesus summed up the two greatest commandments: To love God with all our heart, mind, sol, and strength, and to love one another as we love ourselves.”
I have often wondered why Jesus doesn’t just say we should love one another, or why he doesn’t say we should love others as God loves us.
Why does he say we should love others as we love ourselves?
What if we don’t love ourselves?
Isn’t there a caution to NOT love ourselves too much?
How does this command go together?
It would be much easier if Jesus would have said it differently
But Jesus said it precisely this way!
God loved us so much that Jesus was sent into our world to live as one of us.
This is incarnation – and it is pretty scandalous!
God invested everything into knowing us and loving us – shouldn’t we invest in this too?
You are worth getting to know and love. Even the very human limitations we strive to overcome and failures we try to hide.
Learning to love ourselves IS loving as Jesus came to love!peace and joyPastor Wendy
We all remember “the slap” from the Oscars this past year. Will Smith has finally spoken out about it and reveals some pretty horrific childhood memories. He kind of sums things up by saying “hurt people, hurt people.” I have heard that statement said in many circumstances … and it is true. When we are hurt, it can change our behavior. It is hard to love others as God loves, when we do not love ourselves. This takes us back to the last phrase of the commandments as Jesus offered them:
We must love one another as we love ourselves. Perhaps that is descriptive as much as it prescriptive.
I will be saying this over and over again in this Advent season (because it is the central message of Christmas). You are of sacred worth to God. God loved us so much that Jesus was sent into our world. God descended into our world, so we do not need to strive in our ascending into God’s world. You are enough. I am enough. Even those with whom you disagree are “enough”. But we won’t be able to love those “others” until we look deeply into our own heart and soul and love ourselves.peace and joyPastor Wendy