“Seasonal change” – December 2013

As I write, a few days before Thanksgiving…I’m giving thanks for all of you and for all the ways you are helping our churches be truly welcoming places for all. I’m thankful for all who have helped with this fall’s Parish Pumpkin Patch for the Bourne Food Pantry – thankful for all who will be helping with our Community Thanksgiving meal at Cataumet – thankful for all who serve on committees, join in our bible study groups, pray for the church, and all the many other ways you serve God and help keep our churches alive and active…

And in just a few days we’ll be in Advent, the season leading into Christmas. A time for getting ready… A time to be nurturing new life into birth, along with Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah, in the Advent drama as told in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels.

Advent is a time to find places in our hearts and routines where we can draw closer to God. Keeping the focus on Jesus doesn’t happen for most of us without some struggle. Even before Black Friday, many of us are already fighting the commercial-Christmas-blues. We benefit from a road map for the seasonal journey.

There are many ways to be more deliberate about reclaiming Christmas and Advent.  Advent Conspiracy is one movement aimed at redirecting shopping and spending habits in more deliberately Jesus-focused directions. (A web search with the phrase advent conspiracy gets you there directly.)

For those who prefer a book in hand, Bill McKibben (nature writer and Methodist Sunday School teacher) has written The Hundred Dollar Holiday, which traces the history of Christmas with an eye towards reclaiming what’s best and discarding the rest.

Recovering a simpler and less expensive season helps bring peace of mind and a renewed sense of sacred time. This time of year I read the advent stories many times, slowly, meditatively, prayerfully, and read from Isaiah, the psalms, and at least one gospel all the way through. I pray a little longer and try to be a little more deliberate about living each day.

When I make more time for prayer, contemplation, family, bible reading, walks in the woods or along a beach – time for enjoying the new reality made possible in the miracle of God-with-us-in-Jesus – it’s always worth it.

Advent and Christmas are miraculous seasons in which we actually get to participate in living nativity, as we prepare for the birth of Christ in ourselves, our churches, our communities, in all God’s world.

May God bless and prepare us, and may God’s grace and peace be with us all.

Pastor Tim