May the grace and peace of God be with you! These are days especially rich in grace and peace from God. It’s good to bring four seasons together, merging into our lives with wonder and hope in the midst of a world crying out in violence, struggle, desperation, greed, homelessness, poverty and the destruction of the earth itself.
First of all, Thanksgiving: we approach the end of the year by celebrating Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the recognition of God’s presence in our life, of God’s faithfulness that has brought us through the uncertainties, dismays and threats of the past year. Take a moment to name these enemies: rising gas prices; wars for which the ends elude us; threats of new wars; political dysfunction; deficit budgets; enduring for so long without a pastor (and for me, without a congregation); the loss of people we love; the earth trembling beneath us followed by hurricane and floods; for some, fires, robberies, illness… And yet life abounds with beauty and goodness. In the midst of these enemies, our cups overflow with blessing and goodness, infinitely more than we can contain! Giving thanks is the process of bumping into God. The more often we give thanks, the more often we see God.
Knowing that the God who has gone before us, bringing us through the sea even as enemies pursued us, we come to Advent, eagerly waiting for the Advent adventures of the days to come, eagerly waiting for God to be revealed through the People of Hope in the world around us.
We prepare for Christmas, proclaiming that God is born in unexpected, very vulnerable, wonder-filled ways in the ordinary events of our lives. Faith becomes a means, not of escaping this world, but transforming this world from hatred to love, threat to new beginnings and possibilities, violence to healing, the perceived absence of God to the amazing immersion in God.
We come to a new year, not as the People of Despair, but as the People of Hope, children of God, living out the book of Revelation today: our tribulations overcome and fading completely as our eyes are open to who God is in our present world:
The marriage feast of the Lamb; healing for all nations; the end of all war and death; all tears wiped away; new heavens and new earth; myriads and myriads proclaiming, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing, honor, glory, dominion forever!” This is our calling as Children of God, People of Hope. This is your reality now and in the days to come.
Joy to the world!