“You know what time it is.” Romans 13:11
Dear Redeemer Family:
We are entering again into the Season of Advent. It is the season of anticipation and expectation.
Not surprisingly, it is the first season of the Church calendar. Yes, we are already into a new year.
You don’t have to wait until January. And for us, this is also the beginning of a special year.
This year we celebrate the 500 anniversary of the Reformation. Worldwide Lutherans are gathering to celebrate this anniversary.
Just last Sunday, we celebrated Christ the King Sunday (the last day of the Church calendar), with the expectation of the culmination of the age. And now, we anticipate once again Christ’s coming. We do so in two forms. First, as everyone is already thinking, as He comes as the babe in the manger. I have noticed that certain stores already begin that preparation before even All Saints’ Day. “Christmas” is not just the celebration of Christ’s birth. The word means, “The celebration of Christ.” Although we tend to put our emphasis upon His birth, the day is really a total celebration of Christ’s coming. That includes His coming again, the Second Coming, and the culmination of the age as He does so.
In that sense, we anticipate and celebrate with all of Christ’s believers. We anticipate with the whole Church; past, present and future; and all denominations; throughout time and space. We believe that through Christ’s coming all things can happen. All things are possible. All things are hopeful.
As Lutherans and reformers this year, we celebrate the Lutheran theological heritage as an ongoing work of reformation of our own church, and steps toward reconciliation with other churches. The theme of the report prepared by the joint Lutheran-Catholic Commemoration of the Reformation is titled, “From Conflict to Communion.” Five hundred years ago, those words would have sounded as impossible to hold together as the wolves sleeping with lambs and streams flowing through deserts that Isaiah prophesied. It is precisely because of their seeming impossibility that Advent is a perfect time to life them up. Lutherans and Roman Catholics sharing the Eucharistic meal at the same altar? “When hell freezes over,” our grandparents might have said. And yet, in October of this year, leaders of the Lutheran World Federation (of which we are members) and Pope Francis signed a document to work towards that goal. Advent dares us to hope, to stay awake, and to bear fruit worthy of repentance – including for the unkind words and assumptions we have so often made about each other. The whole Church gathered.
If we can hold out hope that the new world God is bringing about in Jesus Christ is indeed coming,
and coming soon, and with it will come new highways opened, new protocols declared, then even to this prayer
of unity at the table we can add our own “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.”
In Christ, Pastor Rose