18 Nov Advent at FBC
In his article, “The Death of Gratitude in the American Classroom” Jeremy Adams writes:
“Encouraging people to be gracious, and to recognize what others have provided them through no merit of their own, is not about ‘guilt-tripping’ them. It is to encourage a particular way of existing in the world. Gratitude acknowledges the plenitude of goodness that surrounds us every moment of every day in millions of small acts of people we do not know.”
After a long and arduous journey through 2021, we find ourselves in the season of Advent and nearing the stillness and simplicity of that manger in Bethlehem. Part of our worship and preparation will involve lighting candles of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love as we rejoice in the “the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.”
I can’t help thinking about how this year compares to last year’s. For me, the last two weeks of 2020 meant being in isolation with the COVID virus—it meant my calling Jason to step in for the Christmas Eve service. The weather that evening also required us to go ‘online only.’ I experienced Christmas Eve via my laptop while the snow fell outside the windows; memorable for sure but in an unexpected way.
That’s what Christmas is about. I suspect many of you could say similar things about how unexpected your life has been this year. Still, we’ve come a long way together as a church family. While there are ongoing evidences of the pandemic as well as new challenges before us, there is also the glimmer of hope that better days are ahead.
I’m confident this is true for our church too. There’s a renewed sense of energy and purpose as decisions are being made to position us well for ministry for the upcoming year. It’s wonderful to see persons getting involved in leadership, ministry, and missions. Remember that your prayers, attendance, and financial support are an encouragement and making a difference in our church and community.
Finally, keep in mind the meaningful worship and fellowship opportunities available during Advent—I hope you’ll take advantage of them.
The holiday season always brings about a variety of emotions. Some of you are excited about these days while others are experiencing Christmas without a loved one–perhaps for the first time. It’s important to be mindful of this as we share life together.
My family and I are grateful to celebrate this Advent season with you. Through “no merit of our own” God has been gracious to us. We are glad to be part of Clinton and to call First Baptist our church home. So, on behalf of Lori, Cally, Lucy, and Matt, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!