“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection."
Brene’ Brown The Gift of Imperfection
As the High and Holy seasons of Hanukah and Christmas are upon us, we are reminded anew of God’s continued work on behalf of humanity. The Light of God still shines even though darkness attempts to overtake it and God comes to us as Immanuel, God with us. There is no greater assurance that we need in the midst of troubling moments than the prophetic pronouncement, God is with us. That concept is quite interesting. We often have the proclivity to think of God as “above us.” But I love that fact that the God who was once above us come to tabernacle and domicile with us. God is with us through it all.
The birth of Jesus under the most unlikely of circumstances teaches us that we too can be reborn, restored, and rejuvenated anywhere, anyplace, and anytime. Wherever we find ourselves, whatever struggles we have to encounter, God is with us and “Great Expectations” and new possibilities still exist.
While this season is earmarked every year for expressions of joy, peace, and love, some of us have to encounter life at its worst during this moment. We should always take the commandant of Jesus of Nazareth seriously when he proclaimed, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This declaration should move us to give the gifts of prayers, love, joy, peace, and hope to those who need it the most. The ethos of caring and reaching out to each other in the time of great difficulty is essential to the spirit of Christmastide.
Finally, on behalf of Brandi and Camille, we count it a privilege and a joy to share in another Christmas fellowship with all of you. We are truly thankful for each of you, for each of you being a blessing to us with your time talent, and treasure, and allowing us to be a part of your lives. God is at work in the life of our church and our community and we are to always be in perpetual pursuit of God wherever God is. Just like the Christmas narratives in the Gospels, God shows up where we least expect it and when we least expect it. Out task is to have “Great Expectations” and always be ready to identify and connect with God. It’s an adventure we’re glad to share with you all.
With Great Expectations,
Brandi, Camille, and Pastor Grove
"Works of justice follow the road less traveled of Advent’s hope to pursue solutions for difficult problems. Hope comes through works of justice rather than simply performing works of charity." -Father Brian Cavanaugh
In concert with the liturgical calendar today marks the first Sunday in the season of Advent. Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming" .Latin adventus is the translation of the
Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.
It’s rather easy to get caught up in the trap of the “Americanized” view of this season that attempts to coerce us to spend what we don’t have in order get what we don’t need. The God of consumerism tries draws us away from the true and living God. In this moment of Advent I believe
we are called to a greater level of service, giving, and self-sacrifice. In this season of “Great Expectations” we are to embody our Lord and Liberator Jesus of Nazareth in making a difference in our world. As I write I am thinking about our “Criminal Injustice System” that conveyed to us that Michael Brown’s life was not worthy of saving or his murderer deserving to be tried in a court of
law. What does Advent and this season mean for his mother, father, and our sisters and brothers in Ferguson? Howard Thurman raises a similar question in his classic text “Jesus and the Disinherited”, “What does the religion of Jesus have to say to those whose backs are up against the wall?” We must speak to this reality and use our collective voices because #BlackLivesMatter.
I am excited to begin a new Advent preaching series entitled “A Promised Gift.” When we cannot depend on anyone or anything else, we can trust on the promises of God. As we ready our hearts, spirits, and minds for this season, I feel the need to make a deeper commitment as husband, father, son, pastor, and public servant. My prayer is that we would share the liberating power of the
promised gift that is Jesus Christ.
With Great Expectations,
Pastor R. Grove