Dear St. Thomas,
November has come and gone and December seems to already be in full swing. While it seems as if stores have been ready for the holiday shopping season since Halloween, the season of Advent begins on December 3 this year.
The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming”. Today, the season of Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. It doesn’t happen every year, but this year the fourth Sunday of Advent is on December 24, which also happens to be Christmas Eve. Christians believe that we need God to bring us life and salvation. While Christmas celebrates Jesus coming into the world as God incarnate, we also understand that this is not only an event occurring in the past, but also happens in our present life and the world’s future. Our season of Advent is not as much about Mary’s pregnancy as it is the church’s continual prayer that God will come to us and bring life to a dying world. For those of us in the northern hemisphere of the world, it is a time to meditate on the darkness in our world, the social order, the lives of many people, and in our own lives. It is a time to pray for God’s salvation and wholeness for all. With the busyness of our lives and the brokenness in the world we are called into a quiet and reflective Advent; we are called into a time to hope for God’s salvation; we are called to pray for the world; we are called to pause from the cultural hype and consumerism the seasons often brings; we are called to wait for the good news that God continues to bring to us today.
One of the practices that we will be sharing in this year is the practice of an Advent Photo a Day. Each day has a word assigned to it. Take a picture of something that captures that word for you. If you have email you can email it to me (email@example.com) or you can post it to our Facebook page. I pray that this will give you time to reflect on the season and on the ways God is already at work in the world.
Another practice that we are participating in this year is giving to the ELCA Good Gifts. There will be two trees in the narthex of the church with ornaments on them. Each ornament has an item and a dollar amount, such as a goat for $50. These gifts will then go to projects, people, and families that they will help the most. After choosing your ornament you will fill out the form located on the table next to the trees and turn it into the offering plate with the amount of money (cash or check) needed for that gift. You can purchase these gifts in honor of someone take the ornament home and give it to them for Christmas this year.
Peace and blessings as you prepare both your hearts and homes for Christ coming into the world,
Pastor Joyce Partyka Staib
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