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The Congregational Church of West Medford is now doing business as Sanctuary UCC.

Living the Season of Advent

AdventWreath1It is hard for me to choose between Advent and Lent as to which is my favorite liturgical season.  I guess for today, I have to say Advent is my favorite (in a couple of months I will change my mind ;-).  There is something about the minor key of the music of the season (Advent music, not Christmas music) that  moves me deeply.  (Our New Century Hymnal has some wonderful new Advent Hymns.)  As I was preparing the bulletin for this Sunday’s Hanging of the Greens Worship and it hit me that we are crossing over into a new liturgical year (It is Year A and Matthew is “The Man”) I found myself whooping for a moment with the sense of hope and anticipation of that crossover.  It doesn’t hurt that we, as a faith community hit a very significant crossover moment this past Sunday in our unanimous decision to move forward to market our property to see what that might mean for the future of our mission and ministry!  I am fluttery with anticipation, happy about our sense of commitment and connection and delighted by the not-so-coincidental synergy of this happening just as the church-calendar turns a page and we set our sights on the coming of Jesus!  Again!

I am headed off for a few days of rest and renewal and am keeping it simple this week as it relates to my reflection.  I offer the following considerations from one of my favorite theological and worship tools—Seasons of the Spirit Fusion—about how to living the season of Advent.  A core spiritual practice is the be active in your waiting!  Each week, this resource offers a recommendation for living the season and I will include it here on my reflection page/blog.  I know you will have a wonderful worship service this week, Hanging the Greens and getting into the spirit.  So get ready—’cos John the Baptizer and I will be back with you next Sunday!

Blessings, Rev. Wendy Miller Olapade,

Actively Waitinglady in waiting

Advent is about actively preparing for and anticipating God coming into our lives – not only preparing for the celebration of Christ’s birth in a few weeks but actively preparing for God to come into our lives EVERY DAY!  God’s presence with us – and our presence with those who are precious to God – brings us closer to God.  We grow spiritually, love deeply, and work for peace and justice for all God’s people.

During this Advent season we hear God’s message of love, peace, and justice from the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah challenges us with a message of peace that demands us to work for the well-being of everyone, not simply to set aside our weapons (Isaiah 2:1–5).  God’s peace requires our participation and energy – just as much energy as we might have spent fighting. Isaiah also shares a vision of power that’s up-ended, reversed – “And a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).  But how can this be?  This is the hope-filled vision of a new world, a world of peace and harmony. A world we’d like to live in today.

Mary herself becomes a prophet – proclaiming a message of liberation to the poor and marginalized (Luke 1:47–55). She carries the great Liberator in her womb and following God’s will she’ll nurture and protect that hope for us all. And along with Mary, Joseph responds to God’s message, received in a dream, to welcome and care for Jesus (Matthew 1:18–25). Joseph and Mary gave up their our own lives and desires for God. Their example helps us lean into God’s will for us in today’s world.

Advent can be a very busy time of year. It’s a time when the church says, “Wait,” and savour these four weeks of preparation for the coming of Christ into our lives.  But many people find themselves rushing to parties, shopping malls, Christmas plays, and family gatherings. During this hurried season, it’s important to pause and get ready for Emmanuel, God with us, to actually be with us. Advent prepares us for the message that Jesus will bring – peace, love, hope, justice, and liberation for all people.  Now that’s something to celebrate!

Living the Season of Advent
December 1: Isaiah 2:1–5
adventIsaiah’s message for the people of Judah – a message that can still teach us today – proclaims peace to a people who were surrounded by war and conflict. Isaiah explains that peace is not just an absence of fighting, but peace is working together with our enemies. It’s the kind of peace that requires our participation and attention. It’s peace made of justice and the well-being of all people. Just as Advent is a time when we wait expectantly for the coming of Christ in the world, peace requires the same watchfulness and involvement.
This week replace three habits with new ways that lift up the well-being of others.

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