Pastor's Monthly Message

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WORTH, Rev. Dr. D. Scott; PastorFor What It’s Worth New Life Starts in the Dark

The season of Advent begins on Thanksgiving weekend. It is right around the corner! Advent this year may feel a little different. An article I read this week touches on a reason why that may be. Here is an edited and adapted excerpt from that article:

New Life Starts in the Dark

Advent – the season of waiting for the church. Most years, clergy urge church-goers to slow down, to lift their heads from the sugar-induced stupor of holiday parties, to take a day where you don’t run around frenzied, trying to complete the Christmas tasks, to be still and reflect.

But this Advent, I find myself impatient. We’ve been waiting. We’ve slowed down to a near stop. We’ve had more quality time with our immediate family members than we knew possible. We’ve stepped away from travels and traditions and gatherings in a big way. So, this year Advent feels more like salt in the sores we’ve developed from our sedentary waiting these last Covid-impacted years instead of a welcome reminder of respite.

So this year, let’s focus on the fact that Advent is more about the good news that comes in the midst of disorientation, the gifts the darkness brings. It’s no accident we light candles during the season of Advent. As we journey toward Christmas, the nights get longer, the sun gets weaker, the days get colder—all leading toward the winter solstice, December 21st, the longest night of the year. We need all the warmth and light we can get. Things work the other way for Lent and Easter. In spring the days get brighter and warmer and longer as Easter draws near. But not so for Advent and Christmas. And so we light candles to remind ourselves that God is with us even in the deepest darkness.

“New life starts in the dark,” Barbara Brown Taylor says. “Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark.” But we know the darkness all too well this year. Do we really need to dwell on it for a month? This year, I find myself wanting to skip ahead without feeling beholden to waiting and preparation.

So what if we take this season of Advent, the rest of this year even, to attempt to see things differently? What if we stretch our imaginations and dare to dream that a new thing is possible? We’ll be able to gather around tables again with those we love. Our kids will go back to school. We will gather in crowds and attend concerts. We’ll properly celebrate and say goodbye to those we’ve lost. We’ll gather to toast those who are getting married. We’ll be able
to share this sanctuary together. We’ll be able to see each other’s faces and hold each other’s hands and make music together again.

Yes, a new thing is possible. This year will end, this season will end, and the isolation and the masks and sanitizing fountains will one day be stories we tell our children, only distant memories instead of our reality. Let’s dare to dream that’s true. But let’s not stop there. A new heaven and a new earth, no more weeping or cries of distress, no infant mortality or premature death, no war or invasion or brutality, people build houses and get to live in them, people plant crops and get to eat their fruit, children are not born in poverty or calamity, the wolf and the lamb feed together, no one hurts or destroys anymore. Why not go a little crazy with our dreams this Advent season?

Isn’t that what this season is all about? The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Generation after generation waited for some light, some sign that God was still with them, that the world could become something new. And they found their long-suffering hopes and dreams fulfilled on that holy night in that little town of  Bethlehem.

So we are called to wait, to watch, to dream… even in the darkest darkness. In this holy season of Advent, I invite you not to wait passively, but to get to work. I invite you to dream differently, to see the light sometimes hidden in the dark, to open yourself to the joyous, liberating surprises of God.

May it be so.

Your Pastor,

Scott <><

Adapted from: “Those who dream…prepare the way”, Journal for Preachers Volume XLVI
number 1.