eletter 12/2/18

Happy almost December! Depending on how you celebrate the holidays, your December calendar might already be beginning to fill up. At this point, I am completely relying on my planner, because otherwise, there’s no way I’d keep it straight! Christmas time can be an insane blur of sugar, festivities, and parties. It can also be a time of great grief and sadness, whether by reminders of loneliness or loss throughout the season. Joy and grief go hand in hand this time of year.
My worship professor in seminary spoke about how we sometimes ignore the longing of Advent for the joy of Christmas. Our “mad-dash” for the holidays is the exact opposite of the purposes of Advent. Advent, or these four weeks leading up to Christmas, is meant to be a time of waiting, pause, and repentance- represented by the purple of our Advent candles. Longing. Waiting. Grief. Repentance. That doesn’t sound like the Christmas tunes on the radio, does it?    
Throughout our Advent season we will talk about the classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. While It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas classic, it gets this longing and waiting right. George, in his despair, flubs, and questions, experiences the whole range of the human emotions that we experience in our own lives. Life rarely goes as planned, but it is always a gift. George discovers this throughout the movie, and we hope to discover it in our own lives through this season. We will be reminded that with Jesus, we can begin to see our lives with new eyes and new purpose. Even when life is hard and unexpected, we can see that God is with us, and therefore, we can have hope.    
As a part of the first Sunday of Advent, we’ll read a passage about the second coming of Christ. This traditional set of readings remind us that just when the night seems the darkest, the light of dawn appears. Just when we think all is lost, Christ promises to return to us. And this word continues to be applicable to our world in this season: it is easy to watch the news and lose hope. Acts of horrific violence, wars, famines, families who are forcibly separated from one another, fires that wipe out entire communities, the list goes on. But it is not just now — this message of Christmas has been a hopeful word in every age of crisis and grief. Just like It’s a Wonderful Life, it is honest. It knows that there is darkness and yet, Christ has come to defeat darkness, sin and death.    
I’ll confess, I get a little weepy this time of year when I listen to Advent and Christmas hymns. Just like It’s a Wonderful Life, I find them all to be so honest. “A weary world rejoices,” got me this week. A weary world, indeed. I hope that as we explore this movie and this season together, we can hold in tension all of our grief and the great joy of light shining in the darkness. I think we’ll discover that that is exactly what Advent, Christmas, and the human experience are all about.    
See you Sunday,
Pastor Allee