This past week I was out driving in the evening and it’s clear that the season of Christmas is upon us. The traffic was TERRIBLE! Our neighbor put his lights on the house more than a week ago. And I don’t know what got into me, but ours are up as well. It’s a record.
When we lived in Canada, I always managed to put off hanging the lights till the day of our Christmas Open House. Every year (every year) that coincided with biting cold temperatures and heavy snowfall. I remember climbing up the freezing rungs of our aluminum ladder, with gloves on, trying to clip the strands into plastic clips that kept breaking off in the cold. It was hard to feel what I was doing with the gloves on. It was hard to feel anything at all with them off. So we’re grateful. I still have to put the reindeer out, but when I last saw him he still looked OK.
Of course in the Church calendar it’s not Christmas that is upon us, but Advent. Before we get to the manger, to marvel with the shepherd and sing with the angels, we have this season of four weeks in which to prepare. Advent comes from the Latin adventus, which means arrival, or coming. It is the coming of God into the world in human form that calls for our attention.
Traditionally, the First Sunday of Advent reminds us that there is another arrival which the world awaits, the coming of the Messiah at the end of history. Over the next two Sundays we hear from John the Baptist, who proclaimed the coming of the kingdom of God, and launched Jesus into his active ministry. We conclude with the angel’s radically unexpected announcement, to Mary, of the birth of a child who would change not only her life but the future of earth’s peoples.
This year the Fourth Sunday of Advent falls on December 24, so it will be a very full Sunday! We will have our usual morning services at 8:30 and 10 a.m., but no 5:30 p.m. By then we’ll have transitioned to our Christmas Eve Children’s Service at 4:00 p.m. We’ll be lead by the 3rd service ensemble for a very musical Christmas at 8:00 p.m., and share candles, carols and communion with our Chancel Choir at 11:00 p.m.
Of course we’ll be doing the Trek to the Tree, to support children who are part of the community at Toberman Neighborhood Center this Sunday and next. Our choir and members of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles will lead us in a magical concert on Saturday evening, December 16. Our own youth will be delivering poinsettias to members of our church family who are at home, or recovering from illness or recent loss. And some of us will be ringing bells for the Salvation Army at the Riviera Village Von’s.
Our story says that lots of people were on the road a couple of thousand years ago, too. Sure, the traffic is terrible. But in a way it’s a reminder that in the midst of the most everyday, ordinary situations, our God is coming to us, again.
Grace and peace,