Does it seem like we are catapulting toward Christmas at a speed faster than usual? No? Just me then, I guess… The Advent season is one of my favorite times of the year, and also one that I wish lasted longer. Every year during this season, I more readily sense the spiritual. I know I am likely not alone in that. Advent points us to the moment when God broke into the world in the most compelling way through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. That is what the whole season leads up to. There is anticipation and waiting, yet longing and excitement. I feel it.
Knowing that there was this significant moment when Jesus came into the world, do you look for God’s inbreaking more during this season? Are you more aware of God’s presence in particular ways or at particular moments? For me this year, there have been several seemingly unrelated moments where God has caused me to cross paths with people who all shared with me the same thing… they were experiencing hurt from a church.
And while these encounters were not directly related to each other, they are most certainly related and I believe purposeful by God. I talked with these folks about their particular situations where the churches they were attending had either excluded or hurt them in some way and they were feeling disillusioned. As a pastor, it can be difficult to offer care, listening, empathy and compassion to the person while also representing the larger institution that hurt them.
But God’s inbreaking with these encounters has provided a possibility… what if Hope is a place where people know they won’t experience the kind of hurt they endured with previous churches? What if we could be the place that restores hope in people about being part of the Church? I think we can. I preached two Sundays ago about adoption and belonging to the family of God. I believe we can be that true safe place for people to nurture their relationship with God, grow in their faith formation and contribute meaningfully to the work of God in our community.
Be on the watch for how God breaks into your life this Advent season and be ready for new possibilities! Bless you!