“Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” Psalm 80:7
Dear Redeemer Family:
As we end the year of the coronavirus, we have had to learn some bitter lessons. We have had to face a new normal. And people who have refused to learn, have faced a terrible consequence. Things that we have taken for granted have been taken from us. And, we have been changed. I have had to miss the last two Sundays. The first because I was coughing so hard that my wife was afraid that I would scare some of you. I probably would have. Sometimes, it scared me. The second Sunday because the day before Ruth was notified that she was Covid positive (by the way, she has been tested several times now). And, I am currently waiting for the results of my Covid test, which I assume will be positive as well. Ironically, I’m feeling better today. But we have had to change. We have had to slow down.
We are now in the “holiday season,” and we are also asked to forgo certain traditions, like large gatherings. That is right and proper in the present circumstance. We have had to pause our “in person” worship service because of the surging numbers of this virus. We can live with that. Many of you don’t know, but since March, I’ve performed four funerals which were caused by this virus. And many of you do know I don’t like funerals. If this will prevent more tragedies, I’m in favor of it. We will get through this. We have word now of not one, but three vaccines that will be distributed soon. This is very good news. But, we have to wait.
The Church has been nice enough to provide us with a season of waiting. It is called Advent. This year, we may well be forced to actually observe it as it should be. In this season when the cultural gravity pushes us down the hill to Christmas way too fast, it’s time to apply the brakes and slow down. And this year, we will have to slow down. As counter cultural as that may seem, there’s too much to hear, too much to see, too much to experience, too much to take in to hurry through Advent. We sit with Isaiah and his people who longingly waited for the coming of the Promised One. We stand with John the Baptist as he calls God’s people to prepare the way of the Lord.
This slowing down makes room for the Spirit to show us those things in our own hearts and in our own systems that we might rather leave undisturbed and unacknowledged. The Advent scriptures urge repentance, another practice that is best not hurried through. It may not be pleasant to acknowledge the places in our lives where we have wandered; nor it is delightful to hear a word about a God who has standards and who is angry at both individual and corporate sin. Still, that word stands front and center in the Advent scriptures and begs to be heard in a culture that makes no room for such things. Perhaps this year, as all has changed, slowed and spaced out a bit, we can hear these words more fully. Doing so, perhaps we may more fully prepare for the coming of the Promised One, and receive Christ more fully into our homes. Have a blessed Advent this year.