So here’s the deal….
I was stuck trying to write my newsletter article for December and was sort of whining about it to friends online…you know, like you do…when one of them proceeded to GUSH at me about Advent. Describing herself as an impatient, imperfect Lutheran Christian who loves Advent hymns, my friend drug me into the joy of what seemed at the time so tedious. I’m so grateful for that, I’ve decided, with her permission, to share with you her take on this blessed, holy season. Please enjoy! -Pastor Heather
Waiting is hard.
And it’s not very fun, either.
Waiting in yet another line at the store. Waiting for the bus. Waiting for that oh-so-slow clock to FINALLY say that work is over, that it’s time to go home.
Waiting for the results of a test (good and bad).
Aside from the everyday mundane things, there are good things to wait for.
Sometimes finding the patience for those moments is even more difficult.
Waiting for a chapter update on that story we can’t stop reading.
Waiting for that moment when we get out of the car, or get off the bus or train or plane, and finally embrace the ones we’ve missed so much.
Waiting for our graduation day. Waiting for our wedding day. Waiting for the birth of a child.
Waiting for Christmas.
Advent seems tedious; our culture rushes straight past it and into Christmas without a second thought. Often before all the Halloween candy is put away, let alone eaten.
No one likes to wait.
And yet that’s what we do during Advent.
There is preparation in waiting. Before a party, before a trip. Certainly before big life events. Sometimes the preparation threatens to overwhelm us and overshadow the main event. That is not what Advent and Christmas are meant to be – one shouldn’t overshadow the other, though that’s what has happened. The two seasons are meant to compliment each other.
We can’t have the celebration of Christmas without the waiting of Advent.
Advent isn’t always sitting quietly – though in reality that’s what we need in our hectic world. A moment, a few minutes, to ponder what this season is all about:
The moment when the waiting ended, and the Promised Savior appeared. The Prince of Peace, as Isaiah called Him.
We wait for many things in this world. An end to suffering, an end to political turmoil, an end to war.
We don’t have to wait any longer for an end to death. It has already been destroyed.
Jesus destroyed death.
That is why we have hope during Advent, and peace during Christmas.
Because the hope we have has been fulfilled. The promise is kept.
Peace is here. He is beside us, and with us, always.
No more waiting. Even when it feels like we SHOULD have enough time to prepare for whatever we’re waiting for, usually we don’t.
We’re not prepared. We forgot the type of cake the birthday person liked, we didn’t get the floors scrubbed before the guests came, we forgot that Thing at the store our spouse or our kid reminded us to get 47 times.
The first Christmas wasn’t planned on by those who’d been waiting.
Not even His mother had planned it that way. I’m sure she would’ve preferred to give birth in her own hometown, not far away among strangers and sheep.
And when He did come not many recognized Him. Those that did were the outcasts and foreigners.
They knew what had been promised. They knew what to look for. When they were told that yes, THIS IS HIM, THE ONE YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR, they listened.
And they rejoiced.
Good Luck Storming the Castle!
But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. – Matthew 6: 6a CEB
Welcome to Lent-that time of intentional deepened spirituality when we do our best to focus our spirits and lives on God through
fasting, sacrifice, and prayer. For some of us, prayer IS a sacrifice… but that’s another newsletter.
As your community of faith, we feel it is incumbent upon us to facilitate that Lenten discipline in every possible way. And being aware that the demands of the world are many, we have set up a place here in our church – our Parish Hall to be exact – for you to come and pray. You’ll find it in our lounge, on the far wall. We have an altar, and a kneeler, and a candle, and there you go! All set!
When you drop by to pray, you’ll be in the room right next to the office, which is sort of a busy place. You’ll be able to hear the phone ring, the doors open, and muffled voices. There will issues, problems, love, and cooperation going on, and bits and pieces of it might intrude slightly.
Oh…that quiet you were hoping for won’t be available during the school day. Those sweet little voices from up the stairs will surround you as children learn, grow, and occasionally scream like banshees. You’ll be able to hear them and the patient but firm voices of their teachers as they are nurtured and loved.
The thing about this prayer area is that it is in a room with lots of windows, so the light is great. And you can hear all sorts of things – children in the park, people walking past the church on the sidewalk, folks having a bit of a chat in the parking lot…I guess there’s no getting away from the community.
So…yeah. For your Lenten prayer discipline, we won’t be much help offering you a place away from the demands of the world. But we are offering you a place in the midst of a world that really sort of needs prayer – the work of the church, the children we love, the community we serve.
Someday, perhaps, we’ll have a place set aside – a chapel or something of the like – where we can truly go to be alone with God in the quiet depths of prayer and worship. Nothing to disturb or distract us. Right now, the only place that qualifies would be the Power Room/Janitor Closet. But for now, we offer you a place to be apart from, yet a part of, the world around us. We offer a place where you can come with the intention of engaging God in prayer for your own spiritual wellbeing, but will probably find yourself engaging in prayer for the wellbeing of everyone and everything bothering you.
It works, though. God knows your intentions, probably before you do, and God answers prayer.
Good luck with everything. I’ll be praying for you as soon as the dogs stop barking next door, and the copy machine quits running, and its nap time… Or maybe I’ll just pray for you in the middle of it, because we’re never out of the middle of it. And neither is God!
Printable version of this newsletter: Newsletter March 2018
Sharing Christ’s love with everyone through our thoughts, words, and actions.
Does that title sound vaguely familiar to you? Is it something you’ve read? Something you’ve heard? Something you’ve said, maybe? Perhaps you had a hand in composing it?Does that title sound vaguely familiar to you? Is it something you’ve read? Something you’ve heard? Something you’ve said, maybe? Perhaps you had a hand in composing it?
I hope that if you don’t immediately recognize it, it tickles the corner of your mind and bothers you all day like a song title you just can’t remember and therefore can’t Google to get the words to it.
Brothers and Sisters…this is our Mission Statement. It is the definition of our own understanding of who we are and what we do right now at this moment. It is an identity that we have discerned. Ostensibly, it is what inspires us, drives us, and guides us.
Question… is it doing its job? Is it visible in our church, present in our worship, guiding and forming the work of the people called Methodists in Lake Geneva, WI?
If the answer is yes, great! It might be a good idea to assess the results every once in a while, but still…great!
If the answer is no… why not? Have we outgrown it? Does it still have relevance? Have we just forgotten it exists?
You see…the thing is, a Mission Statement is only part of the picture in a church. The other part is the Vision Statement- who we are going to be and where we are going to go, by the grace of God. A Vision Statement is aspirational, a goal to reach and strive for, a place we’re called to journey to. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you folks that you’ll have a heck of a time getting anywhere and if you don’t have some sort of idea where and who you are right now.
So, I think we should take a good look at our Mission Statement. We should keep it in front of us. If it is a good and true representation of who we are and where we are called to be (spoiler alert- I really think it is), then we need to ensure that it becomes a part of everything we do as we strive to live into the Kingdom of God.
Whether it is forming a regular prayer group, repairing a window, planning a worship service, reading our daily devotional, hosting Walworth County at the Fair, meeting as an Ad Council or developing new ministries….you name it- Sharing Christ’s love with everyone through our thoughts, words, and actions should be an intentional part of it.
Not gonna lie…I’ve been here three years and I had to go look it up. That’s my bad.
I need to see it more often. I need to pray on it more often. I need to preach it more often. I need to teach it more often. I need to embrace it in the context of every task I do.
Maybe you don’t need all that, but as I do, I’m taking you all with me. So look for it. Let it roll around in your head and take up residence in your heart. I’m sort of thinking that if we do this, its going to wind up showing up in our lives outside of all this church stuff. It may even take on the form of a life of deep, committed discipleship.
And wouldn’t that be a hoot!
I can’t WAIT to get a gander at the Vision that is going to come from all this. I Just. Can’t. Wait!
Can I get an Amen? Can I get a Sharing Christ’s love with everyone through our thoughts, words, and actions?
Grace and Peace!