Dear Ones in Christ Jesus:
The next seven days are likely to be jammed for many of us. The energy and hustle of Thanksgiving will consume the next several days with travel, connecting with family and friends, eating and serving our neighbors. It is worth remembering that what we may pack into a few days is something that the people of God are enjoined to do all the time. After all, we are the ones who are invited to give thanks every day and in every circumstance. In recent years we have been reminded by theologians, physicians and therapists of the value added to our lives to live from a heart of gratitude. That may be especially worth keeping in mind this coming weekend when college football obsessed fans hold their breath for long periods of time without exhaling because of what's going on the field.
No sooner than the turkey leftovers become sandwiches, salad, soup or are fricasseed Advent will be here. Sunday December 1 marks the start of Advent and a new church year. December 1 is also World Aids Day lest we forget. Advent offers the church and each Christian the opportunity to mark time in a particular way. In this season we wait with patience to receive the revelation and presence of God anew as we rhythmically journey toward Bethlehem. But truth be told we have an awkward and uncomfortable relationship with Advent. Maybe it's the shorter, darker days of December. Or maybe it's because we just want to get on with Christmas, which by the way is so wrapped in glitz and consumerism that we often fail to unwrap the real gift of Christmas. After all, why be bothered after Christmas Eve with our candle lighting and singing Silent Night with a little baby who even in infancy seeks to completely rearrange our lives.
But every year I lean into Advent with new hope and anticipation that I won't rush through the days and miss the point again. So, I am praying with and for me and you. The Apostle Paul is spot on with this reminder:
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:11-14)
Trying to pay attention with you to what really matters I am,
Yours in Jesus Christ,
✝︎ Gregory V. Palmer