I hope each of you celebrated a joyful Thanksgiving with family and friends, and are kicking off the holiday season with some Christmas music, hot cocoa, decorating, and the conscious choice to slow down and be a little extra reflective of the blessings in your life (I know I am!).
They say “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.” Well, I don’t know who “they” are, but they sure aren’t wrong! In the two weeks I was away for a conference and a little bit of family vacation, I have missed you, UMC Madison! Though I have been absent from the church building, I have been praying for each and every one of you. I have been busy planning our sermon themes for 2019. I have been receiving updates from our fearless associate and assistant pastor. And I have been thinking deeply about the exciting potential opportunities just on the horizon for our ministries here.
As we enter into the Advent season this coming Sunday in worship, we will be taking the month to reflect on a question Jesus once asked his disciples: “Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am?” Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, the sentimentality of the good-old Christmas story, and all our holiday pageantry and preparation that we forget what all this celebration is all about. We forget who it is we are waiting for — and that the birth of Jesus isn’t just some cool story we tell each year to give us the warm-and-fuzzies. It deeply matters for our lives today.
We are going to dive into the Christmas story in worship this Advent — deeper than most of us often go — further than some of us care to go. I am going to invite each of us to ask ourselves the questions: Who does the world say Jesus is? Who do I say Jesus is — this person that I remember and wait for every year? Is he still significant — and if so, how?
I believe the story we embody in our faith as we remember in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, whom we revere as the Christ, deeply matters for our faith. But I believe it deeply matters for more than that. I believe that what Jesus taught us and embodied in his life matters for the sake of all humanity, and the fate of the world.
I invite you to join this Advent as we worship and pray together in anticipation: O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
See you Sunday!