“In the tender of compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness.” Canticle 16, from Luke 1:68-79, BCP, 93
I share with you this text from Luke’s gospel, because this is our hope in Advent: that out of God’s love and compassion for us, God elects to come to us in Jesus – truly a light from heaven!
The word “advent” is derived from a Latin word for “coming”. It is a time of preparation and expectation for the coming celebration of our Lord’s nativity, and for the final coming of Christ “in power and glory”. In Advent, we look forward in hope and expectation as we remember and celebrate God’s willingness to be with us as Jesus, fully human and fully divine, and God’s desire to stay always present to us as the Holy Spirit.
But Advent is also a time of new beginnings – it is the time when the liturgical church year starts over. In Advent, we change the lectionary year: this year, we will be in Year B, and the Gospel readings on Sunday will be primarily from the Gospel of Mark.
I love that the church year marks a time of new beginnings. We acknowledge the end of the previous year by celebrating Christ as King; then we get to start over, beginning a new year of working to live more fully into that reality. The cycle of the church year affirms that this is not a one-time process, but a continuous one. We are reminded through Advent that God is always coming to us: to renew us; to bless us; to challenge us and to shine light upon us, that we may not remain groping around in the darkness, but have a lighted path – a sacred road map that leads us closer and closer to God. Each year, we are allowed to reflect on our accomplishments, and then lay them down and look forward to where God is calling us next.
This year, the season of Advent is especially precious to me, because it also marks the time of our beginning a new chapter in the life of St. Matthew’s. I am excited about what God has done through this parish, but also about what God has in plan for our future together. I am eager to begin my life and ministry among you; to get to know you; to hear your stories of family and faith; to discern together where God is calling this community in the years to come.
I invite you this Advent to pray with me about discerning God’s call to us as community. However, I also invite you to pray and reflect on what God is calling YOU to be – what new things does God have in store for you in this new year? I look forward to hearing the results!
Grace and Peace,