I love this Advent season. I love the journey from the first Sunday, with Scripture readings looking forward, leaning forward, yearning forward toward God’s deliverance. I love the growing sense of anticipation, the JOYof the Third Sunday, the sense, now, that we are very near the full celebration.
I asked Becky Brown to preach this Sunday, the Fourth and final Sunday of Advent. We’ll hear the story of the young Mary, surprised by the angel Gabriel, even more surprised by his message that she would bear the Son of God. After her initial shock, confusion, and fear, what an amazing response she made—“Let it be…..”
We have had an amazing Advent here at the church. I have been moved and inspired every Sunday by the music, by the readings, by your presence. I’ve been thrilled with each Sunday evening’s programs, from the youth Advent service, to the MusicMakers/Birthday Party for Jesus program, to this past Sunday’s Festival of Carols, at which approximately 125 members of our church family shared their musical talents with a nearly full sanctuary. I was overwhelmed with joy, as I relaxed in the balcony and listened to children, youth, and adults expressing the faith of this holy season in music. And then Wednesday we had a special program with the Carolina Brass that thrilled another full sanctuary!
This Sunday afternoon there is another special service, the annual Service of Remembrance We know that this season can be difficult for those grieving the loss of a loved one, or a relationship, or something else they held dear. This will be a reflective time, with music, scripture, prayer, and candles, to remember, to give thanks, and to recognize that God is present in our grief and loss. The One we call Emmanuel—God with us—is especially present in these times and situations. If you are grieving, or needing a word of hope and strength, please be there.
And check the Christmas Eve schedule for all the opportunities to worship on that special day…..children’s service at 4:00, traditional carols and candlelight at 7:00, young adult-led service at 11:00. And, of course, there’s the Open Communion from 5:30-6:30…..all in the sanctuary, all with communion.
Remember one more thing. Non-church goers are more likely to attend church this time of year than any other time. The reason most people attend a church for the first time is that they are invited by someone they know and trust. Who do you know who might be waiting for an invitation, whose life could be enriched?
I wish each of you the joy and peace of the Christ Child….in your lives, in your families, in your everyday world. And I pray, and hope you pray with me, for the peace of Christ for all the peoples of the world…..all for whom the Christ Child was born.
Joy & Peace,