Like the Wise Men—those scholars of yore who sought Jesus to pay tribute to this new king — who traveled far through territory familiar and odd, under conditions fair and foul, we have traveled long and hard this year. Unlike those travelers of old, we have made the journey without an experienced caravan of savvy adventurers to watch over us. We did not have experienced guides who are familiar with all the landmarks along the way and every friendly group with whom business could be done. We are without herdsmen to maintain our transportation and a captain responsible for our arrival despite threats of nature, bandits, and demon haunted lands. Still, despite the lack of such an expert team, we have arrived, supporting each other along the way, through a year filled with joys and sorrows, victories and defeats. Despite lacking such a handy crew, here we are.
We have arrived once again at the season of Advent. We put out the wreath and the candles, preparing to light them each week and recite the familiar lines, verses about hope, love, joy, and peace. The evergreen wreath the candles are nestled in reminds us of God’s eternal love for us. The central candle reminds us that Jesus is at the center of all and that through him we find our way to the gifts of hope, love, joy, and peace in the midst of turbulent lives. It is an assurance, after our hard journey, that hope remains and that there is still light in the world. We can thank Jesus for all of that. In fact, if we think about it, we did have a captain for our journey, one who promises to be with us all the way through, no matter what may come. That’s Jesus himself, who promises to be with us always, even to the end of the age.
Let us all pause together in the busyness of the season, in the midst of the carols, the dinner plans, the travel arrangements, the quest for that rare gift, the mixed bag of joys and sorrows we carry with us each year for people we’ll soon see and those we will deeply miss who have gone ahead of us, following Jesus to the promised land where life is eternal and God wipes away every tear. Let us pause and celebrate together the birth of the one who loves the world, who brings us new hope, new joy, new peace, and new love. May we all find joy in each other’s company as we worship the newborn savior of the world.
Wishing us all a Merry Christmas and great hope for the New Year to come.
~Peace, Pastor Jeff