Waiting in Hope

12-15-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Lessons and Carols: You and your family and also friends are invited to attend the special Service prepared by our dedicated Choir and Director called “Lessons and Carols.” It is this afternoon, Sunday, December 15 at 3 PM in the main Church. Pause a brief while and come and be uplifted and prepared for the coming days before Christmas. People often say they are too busy with too much at Christmas, so take a break for less than one hour and come and hear the beautiful music of Christmas as prepared by our great Choir and talented Music Director Terry Kerr. It consists of scripture passages and also spiritual and powerful Christmas music. Pastoral

Reflections: So many of our very young people look forward to Christmas. Our middle school and high school young people may look forward to it more as a winter break and even some of us adults look forward to a pause and a bit of a break after the frenzy leading up to it subsides. Adults know that there may be a quiet evening or weekend at home in store for them. This is the Third Sunday in Advent and Christmas is coming closer and closer. Some folks now start to count off “the days before Christmas.” There is less than two weeks to go. This Sunday we celebrate a Sunday in Advent with a very fancy name: Gaudete Sunday. Anticipation for the celebration of the Birth of Jesus is starting to fill people’s heart, some with hope and some with joy. Thus the name Gaudete means: Rejoice!”

Are you aware that our faith tradition and church actively rejoices in the coming of the Lord, which is solemnly promised, yet still we need to be reminded of how it may look and also as importantly what it requires of us. The coming of the Lord is filled with joy, hope, and light, but the coming of the Lord requires something of each one of us.

This week we learn in Isaiah that this prophet proclaims the wonders of the coming of the Lord, but we also know that this great sage addresses a very weary people who must face the overwhelming task of rebuilding a new life together in a ravaged and war-torn land of Israel. In a way, we learn that the actual cost for us of the coming of the Lord is the work we are called to do to build up God’s reign. Note also that Isaiah also tells us of a healing time for body and spirit.

The theme of Isaiah’s description of healing and fullness is also found in the Gospel passage of this weekend. In the person of Jesus, the work and message of John the Baptist and all of the many, many prophets of Israel before him have come to fulfillment. John the Baptist in a dramatic and direct way ushers in “the Reign of God.” John’s vocation as prophet, though great in so many ways, is miniscule compared to his belonging to this new dispensation, this new order, this reign of God. In the Gospels we learn that Jesus announces that this membership is available to each and every one who recognizes it.

How will we know that the reign of God is fully here? We will know when the human spirit breathes free, the shackles of fear are broken, the shadows of sin are dispersed, the weak are strengthened, hearts are healed, and the desert of the human spirit blooms. Note clearly the obvious message and reality that the reign of God does not happen to us; it happens in us and in the world, and in fact it comes slowly and surely.

How great is the wisdom and advice of the second reading! Our second reading advises patience, the kind of patience which only farmers exercise as they await the Fall and Spring rains. The late Fall and Winter rains provide for the subsoil, the Spring and Summer help the seeds to germinate and the crops to grow roots down to the deep water. Farmers must wait for rain; there is no real way to cause rain to fall. They always are waiting in hope. We also must be always waiting in hope for the Lord at Christmas, but we can at this point “rejoice” for he is almost here!

Father Brian