From Pastor Sarah's Pen

Come and fill our hearts with your peace. You alone, O Lord, are holy. Come and fill our hearts with your peace. Alleluia.
— ELW 528 Come and Fill Our Hearts

Welcome to Advent.

Christians have celebrated the season of Advent for most of our 2,000 history, a season during which we wait for the birth of Christ. Our culture moves right from Thanksgiving to Christmas, so the church season of Advent can be awkward. Quite honestly, even within the church, we struggle. During the month of December, we share in the Christmas program. WELCA hosts its annual Christmas concert with the Phoenix College Choir. The Cinema Club usually holds a Christmas party. The Chance Choir sings the Christmas Cantata. This year, the youth will have a Christmas party. We put up Christmas trees in both the sanctuary and Hope Hall...all during Advent. We the church are just as drenched in Christmas as the rest of our culture. And the Christmas festivities and expectations surround- ing us are complex. Joyous and merry but also sad and depressing. We might revel in the Christmas trees, stockings, gift-buying, parties, carols, lights, and general goodwill that accompany Christmas. On the other hand, we might grieve even more deeply during this season if we have lost a loved one or a job or a home for Christmas magnifies the absence of the person with whom we spent every holiday or magnifies the absence of the job which provided the gifts we share in this season or magnifies a lack of place in which to celebrate.

Whether we are merry or sad this season, I invite each of us to enter into Advent, a season of waiting, a season of preparation. I dare say that, if you find yourself unable to disconnect from Christmas, you can simultaneously enter into Advent. To enter into Advent, we embrace the present. We let go of the past and the future and breathe NOW. It isn’t Christmas yet. The Festival of the Nativity will come, but not today.

During our Advent worship services on December 3, 10, and 17, we will stop and be quiet and be present NOW. We will wait. We will prepare our hearts for the birth of Christ. We will do so with silence and a brief guided meditation.