Happy New Year!
You read the title correctly. “Happy New Year!” This upcoming Sunday, November 28, marks the beginning of the Liturgical Year according to our ancient Church Calendar. As I mentioned in my video posted on Christ the King Sunday, “very early on in the life of the Church, Christians made their own calendar that helps us to this day have a different rhythm of life and reminds of the Gospel” (Corey Widmer). The liturgical seasons invite us to “Live His Story” – to remember the story of our lives is woven into the greater story of God’s re-union of all things in Jesus (Ephesians 1:3-10). All of history moves toward the answer to our Lord’s prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
We begin by Living in Advent, anticipating the coming King and Kingdom.
(Created by Mark Sprinkle and Andrew More from Third Church. Used with permission.)
The invitation in the first week of Advent is to “Hopeful Living.” That might sound odd, as the scriptural focus is on God’s coming judgment. Remember, however, two important details. First, God’s judgment extends beyond a declaration of good and evil, of reward and punishment. In the Bible – His Story – a judge is one with the authority, power, and goodness to set things right. We have the certain hope that when Jesus returns (anticipating the Parousia), the chaotic disorder of creation will be beautifully re-ordered by Him, and every unjust, immoral action and attitude authoritatively judged.
If those last few words about judging injustice and immorality make you uncomfortable…they should! For who among us is ready to have our own attitudes and actions authoritatively addressed by a Holy Judge? And yet, here is our second reason to hope. That Holy Judge has already come once (anticipating Christmas), and “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree that you might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). In other words, those who are in Jesus are ready to be judged; we have the certain hope that in him we are declared to be righteous, and through him our lives are being set in order.
No wonder Jesus himself says to us not to fear when we see the chaotic evidence pointing to the last days. “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). We have every reason for Hopeful Living, as we enter Advent together.
I look forward to Living His Story with you this Sunday. May Jesus bless your Thanksgiving festivities, and the Holy Spirit bring to your mind many reasons you can give thanks to the Father.
Your Pastor in Christ
P.S. Remember to bring two important items with you this upcoming Sunday: your creche/manger scene, and your pledge cards. Both will be blessed during the service!