“God Taking Time for Us”
Beloved People of God,
Happy New Year! I know. You’re thinking, what is Pastor Roth thinking? It’s not 2024 yet! But it is Advent, the Christian New Year. So, again I say, “Happy New Year!”
Bishop William Willimon shares in his book, “Heaven and Earth,” as the world’s year ends, the Christian year begins. In December, the world plods toward the termination of another year. Days grow shorter, nights get longer. Welcome 2024! Sounds as exciting as Welcome 2014, or 2004. One year comes, another goes. The questions are, “What’s changed?” and “Who cares?” We still seem to be stuck with things as they are, which too closely resemble things as they always have been. There is still war in the world. Accidents still take the lives of our loved ones entirely too young. Like the author of Ecclesiastes 1:9 asks, “Is there nothing new under the sun?” Not much new to toast in the new year. Or is there?
The gift of the church is the gift of Advent and Christmas. Advent is the beginning of the Church Year, four weeks to take time, mark time, and make time differently from the way the world keeps time. The appointed Advent scriptures are an answer to several of New Year’s questions: Are we ending or beginning? Have we come to the end of the road, or is something new afoot? Is it the same old thing, or a fresh start? Are we stuck, abandoned to our own devices? Or is it possible that God is up to something more for us?
It's been shared before but needs to be shared again. It’s not within our own power to make a fresh start. If we’re to have a future different from the past, it must come as a gift, something not of our devising. What we need is a God who refuses to be trapped in eternity, a Creator who is not aloof from our time. We need a God who not only cares about us but who is willing to show up among us and do something with us, here and now.
Good News! Advent, marking the church’s New Year, says, in a number of different ways, that’s who God is!
Reflecting on some of the Gospel readings appointed for Advent, let’s take time to meditate upon the God who has, in the advent of the Babe of Bethlehem, Mighty Savior, Light of the World, taken time for us. Jesus’ name means, “God saves.” The Almighty One has turned toward us. God arrives in the little one, showing up when least expected and in ways that surprise. All in God’s good time because God is good all the time! Advent is God taking time from us by making time for us.
We will begin the church’s New Year celebration on Sunday, November 26, 2023. We’ve got four weeks to adjust to the jolt of God taking time for us. So, brace yourself to welcome the God you didn’t expect, the God who climbs down to us because we couldn’t climb up to God. Good News! God is on the way!
See You Sunday,