Welcome to Worship today on this the first Sunday in Advent. At Ashmore Uniting Church we seek to express our Christian faith through the vision of being a loving church, focused on the Gospel of Christ:
- Reaching out
- Meeting needs
- Equipping people for service
Our motto is: “reaching out, changing lives”
As I look at the vision of our church and the motto that we have… I see a very “active” set of words that has the capacity to engage us in a busy cycle of “deeds” and “actions”. Advent, however, is meant to be a season that is traditionally a time of preparation and waiting – a time to pause and get ready for Christmas. Our experience though at this time of the year seems to be the opposite of the Advent focus and already people of all ages are finding their attention being pulled in many directions. I’m wondering, how might our worship and community life contribute to slowing down the pace for us as Advent pilgrims?
The focus of today’s theme is “choosing hope”. Hope is a choice we can make in our approach to life, faith, and relationships. Living in hope helps us trust that God’s possibilities are present even in the face of limiting circumstances and challenging experiences. Seeing hope in the midst of the current economic and political climate can be difficult, especially if you are affected by loss of employment or income, or in situations where there is conflict, disaster, and political unrest. There are many instances around the world and locally where we are seeing such unrest. Sometimes despair is masked by a clam appearance. At times, hope can seem like an empty promise.
I meet many people for whom hope seems to have disappeared! Its very sad and sometimes quite debilitating, especially when someone is in the midst of such pain and I know that I need to BE with them, rather than try to “solve their problem”. On the other hand, I meet many people for whom hope has been given to them through the experience of God in their lives, particularly through a time of despair, disaster or tragedy. There is not a formula that is used to make difficulties disappear. There is not a magic potion that you can take to make the pain go away. Many people do try potions like drugs and alcohol to dull the pain, but the consequences of that action is fraught with its own pain and sometimes-dire consequences. There is however, a living God who has made the first move towards us and now we are being reminded of God’s love through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
So today on this first Sunday in Advent, lets make a commitment to enter into this time of waiting and wondering by being available to the Spirit of God in a way that brings us to Christmas with a sure expectation of God being “born again” in our lives and with love for the world.
In what ways might you make this Advent a time of pilgrimage for yourself and your family, a holy walk born of hope? What might you have to set aside for this to happen?
May you make this season a time for Choosing Hope …. beginning today…..Rev Brad Foote