Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Invitation to a Meaningful Advent

[Below is my pastoral article for the December, 2009, newsletter of Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Logan, where I serve as pastor. The building of Saint Matthew Lutheran Church is located at 258 East Hunter Street in Logan, Ohio. If you find yourself in Ohio's Hocking Hills this Advent season, feel free to join us for Sunday worship or for the Advent midweek services mentioned here.]

The Advent Season, that four-week period before Christmas, begins this year on November 29.

The word, advent, literally means coming. You hear or read it used in phrases like, “With the advent of the Internet…," meaning, “With the coming of the Internet…”

Advent is also related to the word adventure. An adventure, whether in everyday life or in books, movies, TV shows, or video games, is a tale full of surprises, of events that we couldn’t have anticipated. Heroes in several of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia novels—fantasy adventures filled with allusions to the Christian life—will buck one another up by saying, “Let us take the adventure that is given to us.”

The Advent Season incorporates both of these meanings of advent, coming and adventure.

We remember the centuries when the world awaited the coming of its Savior.

We remind ourselves to live in faithful anticipation of when that Savior, Jesus, now risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, will come again to this earth to establish the kingdom of God for all eternity.

We commit ourselves to following Jesus through whatever comes to us—joys, sorrows, life, death—knowing that Jesus promises, “the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13).

This Advent, I invite you to take the adventure of this season. Fortify your faith with the incredible truth that God has come to be one of us on this earth, that this same God is returning one day, and that, through Jesus Christ, you and I have God with us always, come what may.

Make prayer a central part of what you do each day this Advent. Ask God to strengthen your own faith, to renew your commitment to loving and serving others in Jesus’ Name, and to help you share your faith with those without faith connections to Jesus and His family, the Church. I invite you to use the Our Daily Bread devotionals to help you in your daily prayers.

I pray that you will also get involved in Sunday School. We meet every morning at 9:15 and we have classes for every age. Soon, our adult Sunday School will be tackling new topics bound to expand and strengthen your faith, fortifying you for life and empowering you to love God and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Finally, I hope that you’ll come to our midweek Advent gatherings. This year they happen on three succeeding Wednesday nights: December 2, 9, and 16. We’ll enjoy potluck dinners. (More specifics on that elsewhere in the newsletter.) After the dinners, we’ll enjoy a brief devotional time in the chapel. We’ll engage in Evening Prayer, sing an Advent hymn, and hear an Advent devotional reading. For those who are interested, the chapel will be open for about an hour after that for silent prayer for our congregation, community, and world.

God has great plans for Saint Matthew, for you and your family, and for our community. In the Advent Season, let’s commit ourselves to taking the adventure that God lays before us in the certainty that the Lord Who came to us on the first Christmas will always be with those who trust in Him.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Mark

[This is a picture of the stained glass window on the south end of the Saint Matthew Lutheran Church sanctuary. Click on the image to enlarge.]

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