WSUMC and Roberts Memorial UMC join together on this Third Day of Christmas to proclaim the Hope, Joy, Peace, Love, and Light of Christ.
The birth of Christ is disruptive to the devastating pain of human frailty. The gift of God in Christ flips all of the societal expectations upside down, and whether shepherds who come in lowliness, or Magi who come bringing valuable gifts, the incarnation invites us as one humanity to join in the noise making. For in Christ, God has won out. The promise of new life is declared, not just possible, but a realized truth.
Pastor Kathy Escobar says that when hope is running low, sometimes the best thing we can do is borrow hope from one another. In the Magnificat, Mary provides more than enough hope for us all to borrow, offered in the assured promise of who Christ is and will be.
There’s power in memory. Mark uses the power of memory in the opening of his Gospel to frame the coming of Christ through the remembrance of God’s saving acts in the history of Israel. Though not all memories are uplifting, the beauty of Advent is the promise that God sends Christ to offer healing and peace into the brokenness and strife.
After a year that presented a plethora of challenges, it may be our desire to skip Advent and dive straight into Christmas. But not so fast! The good news of Emmanuel, God with us, is that we don’t have to skip the weariness and brokenness, or act as if everything is ok. The good news is that God meets us in the darkness. This is Advent.
Encouragement, which comes in many forms, is necessary for healthy and faithful relationships. We have the ability to encourage another by offering affirmation. And yet, sometimes we should not be affirmed. At times, our encouragement needs not to show up as affirmation, but to show up in the form of exhortation, where we are encouraging others to live more faithfully.
It may be Easter in exile, but we are not left on our own to fend for ourselves. We are empowered by the risen Christ to claim that new life, eternal love, and God’s glory are designed for all people. This means not only feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and offering our thoughts and prayers to those who are harmed by the sin of racism; it also means doing the hard work of leading systemic change that keeps people hungry, keeps people homeless, and inequitably causes harm to communities of color.
The Advent and Christmas Seasons are simply the best because the music is the best. The music is built upon a message of hope, promised in the gift of Christ. “Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming” is a hymn that reminds us of that promise, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
To understand Paul’s writings, you have to understand the art of letter writing. Paul wasn’t writing a collection of instruction books for the whole of Christianity, he was writing as an apostolic leader to communities of faith he planted. How we understand his writings will be wholly dependent on how we understand why he wrote.
What we really have here is a parable about a persistent and vindictive widow who was willing to do whatever it took to get her way … and an unjust narcissistic judge who changed a legal ruling for fear of his own safety. The parables aren’t as straight forward and clean as we want them to be, and for good reason, to challenge us to greater faithfulness.