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Join hands and celebrate the birth of Jesus

by davesandel on November 28th, 2021

First Sunday of Advent, November 28, 2021            (today’s lectionary)

Join hands and celebrate the birth of Jesus

The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise, when I will raise up a just shoot who shall do what is right and just in the land.

I drove and drove all day yesterday, from Urbana to Texarkana. The road has become familiar; this is the second half of the 11th trip I’ve taken from Austin to Urbana in 2021. The trucks travel at the same speeds, even though Christmas is coming. The drivers wrestle through the gears with the same persistence and resignation they have the rest of the year.

Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me. All the paths of the Lord are kindness and constancy.

But for me this trip is not like most of the others. I’m looking forward to Advent candles, and Christmas music, and special candy and cookie making days with Margaret, Miles, Jasper and their mom. I can’t wait for the HEB Trail of Lights night, when we join Aki and his family in their van, open all the windows, listen to the music, and become mesmerized by the lights, all the way through Zilker Park. I imagine a few special celebratory meals with family and friends. Why not? Christmas is coming. We get to join hands and celebrate the birth of Jesus.

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.

Today’s purple candle, lit and shining in churches all over the world, symbolizes hope. For us this is a time of light, a time of preparation, a time to rekindle hope, made all the brighter in the face of the troubles and horrors visible just one TV screen away. What manner of man is this Jesus, who can lead us without fear?

The paths of the Lord are kindness and constancy.

Not that Jesus closes his eyes to our pain, our loss, our grief. He sees more clearly than we do. Rose-colored glasses are not for Jesus. Our Advent season begins with words that stun and silence us.

There will be signs in the sun, the moon, the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Maybe our celebrations are a little shallow and superficial? Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lays down his sweet head? Dashing through the snow, on a one-horse open sleigh, over the fields we go, O jingle bells?

But then they will see the Son of Man, coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand!

O come, o come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel. We mourn in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appears. I think there is plenty of room for joy and simple happiness, alongside the deep driving heartbeat reminders of God’s eternal love for us. I rarely feel just one age, and the children’s songs are as powerful now or more so, than ever.

Driving today, the last leg into Austin I hope to be watching two church services, Zion Lutheran Church from Lincoln, Illinois, where I grew up a little farmboy youngster with manure on his shoes, and then Grace Covenant Church in Austin, where Margaret and I have found a home across the street from our apartment. And perhaps I’ll even get to join my friend Casey at church in Tyler.

I can’t wait to sing along with the liturgies I remember from Advent services in the 1950’s, and I can’t wait to sing along with the songs the Grace worship band provides for all of us today, joining all generations in the music of the spheres. Come, Lord Jesus!

Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent, and to stand before the Son of Man.

(Jeremiah 33, Psalm 25, 1 Thessalonians 3, Psalm 85, Luke 21)

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One Comment
  1. Don Savaiano permalink

    Let us not forget to prepare ourselves, through silence and prayer, for the commemoration of the coming of our Savior. It’s necessary to cleanse ourselves in the darkness to prepare for the coming LIGHT OF THE WORLD!

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