Advent Thoughts

by Julie Gittens

Be bold, and bring some of the fruit of the land. Numbers 13:20

xmas flower pulpitOne of my favorite times of year is the Advent Season. I know this sounds hard to believe from someone who had a career in retail management and whose end of the year bonus was determined by holiday sales. Surprisingly enough, I learned how to enjoy my job and appreciate the weeks before the Christmas season by talking with people about it. I would tell people what this time of preparation meant to me. I discovered my simple statements were relaxing not only for me, but also for them.

These four weeks are a time of prayer and preparation. While most of us will be praying about and preparing for Christmas Day with our families, it’s more than just one day. The four weeks before the Christmas season are a wonderful time to prepare for the upcoming year. We all make New Year’s resolutions. Now is the perfect time to not simply state a goal for the upcoming year, but to write down a few goals and plan ways to accomplish them.  It’s the time we can be in preparation without any sense of laziness or guilt. This means we can spend hours or days in prayer without any physical action (outside of regular daily work) without a sense of guilt. Now is the time we can sit silently for hours. And in our silence, we’ll hear something.

I was recently at an Adaptive Transformational Leadership class, sponsored by our Diocese and the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) Convocation at St. Andrew’s in the Valley, in Harrisburg. (I strongly recommend that anyone who hasn’t been to St. Andrew’s take a drive up there and see their chapel and grounds. I can see us having a J2A or ECW event there.) To start the course, an Episcopal priest and a Lutheran pastor read Numbers Chapters 13 and 14 and spoke about the message God gave to Moses, Aaron, Caleb and Joshua. My notes from this lesson are perfect thoughts for Advent. Caleb says to Moses, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” As with any group, there’s always one person ready to take on the challenge. However, most people aren’t that brave and usually need convincing. There will also be someone who objects with the plans to go forward.

We were taught to follow Caleb’s example. Caleb stood up for himself and his people and was rewarded by the Lord. But if we wish to be like Caleb, we must have faith. We can see faith as fear or as hope. The Israelites who wished to return to Egypt, saw their faith as fear, but Caleb saw his faith as hope. He knew there was danger in going forward but his faith in the Lord calmed his fear. He saw the hope in traveling forward to the Holy Land.

The Advent Season is the time to renew our faith in the Lord (Jesus and the Holy Spirit) with hope. It’s the time to prepare for the New Year with hope. Think of Elizabeth and Mary; the Holy Spirit came to them and told them they would be blest with sons; boys who would grow to be men who would help to change the world.  So, this Advent, let’s spend these four weeks in positive prayers; reconcile past differences and work on a positive new year. Let’s set goals; some doable and some outrageous. Believe it or not, we sometimes achieve the outrageous ones before the doable ones. And lastly, let’s spend this Advent Season being thankful…

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