PREPARE THE WAY FOR CHRISTMAS
Dear members and friends of St. Albans Episcopal Church,
Advent is the announcement and preparation of Jesus Christ coming into the world. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah:
“See I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (Isaiah 40:3)
Just as the season of Lent prepares us for Easter, so Advent prepares us for Easter. A reminder that Jesus Christ came into the world to live among us.
How should we prepare for Christmas? The church is called to be a place of cleansing.
That is why we have confession for wrongs we have done knowingly as well as wrongs done unknowingly. In Church we find forgiveness. The church is a community of believers that sometimes meets in a building, or meets in the church yard, and the church goes into the community and is involved in affairs that also reflect our church. We find forgiveness and healing in the organic body known as the Church, built on the Cornerstone of Jesus Christ and foundation stones of the Apostles and Prophets. We are called lively stones that move around organically within a structure of a spiritual building, not make with brick and mortar. In one sense we are called as a living organism and, in another place, we are called a building of the Lord.
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. (Is. 40) We, the church, are called to provide a place of welcome, to acknowledge the Holy Spirit is in our midst to bring comfort. The church, which literally means the called-out ones, is here to encourage, provide a safe place, a place to express your freedom in Christ. I think of that expression: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1 KJV) I like it in the Message translation Christ has set us free to live a free life. So, take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Gal. 5:1 Message)
The church is a place to find your freedom to express yourself without feeling bound up by too many rules and regulations. Stand fast in your freedom and enjoy the freedom we have in God. Quit frowning. Let me see you smile.
The Psalmist says: Mercy and truth have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring up from the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. (Psalm 85:10-11)
In post graduate studies, I learned this truth common to both secular business and church business; If you want healthy dialogue and happy employees or church members make sure you provide a comfortable and healthy environment. People need to feel free to try new things, to not feel like a failure if they try something, and it does not work out. That’s how we learn. It’s okay to make mistakes. Nobody is going to come down on you if it all goes wrong, at least I hope not. It won’t happen under my watch.
We are a glorious church without spot or wrinkle washed in the blood of the Lamb (Ephesians 5:27) Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. (2 Peter 3:15) We are a work in progress and God is not finished with us yet.
I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit
Jesus Christ will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. That is where freedom and excitement come from. That is why we can sit back and take pause that God is doing something awesome and really cool in the church and we are part of it. We can enjoy this reality because the Spirit is within us and around us. In Advent we wait for the promise of Jesus coming into the world at Christmas. He has already come and moved into our neighborhood, but every year in Advent, we are reminded again.