12/3 - Pastor's Post


    This Sunday, December 4, we celebrate the Second Sunday of Advent. In our Gospel (Matthew 3:1-12; it's also the first reading listed below) we will hear about John the Baptist and his message of repentance in preparation for the coming of "one who is more powerful than I, who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
    John was quite unconventional in his appearance, and his diet (locusts and wild honey) would not appeal to the restaurant crowd in our fair city of Richmond. Likewise his message: he told it like it was. When some of the religious leaders showed up at one of his revival meetings, he didn't say, "How nice to have among us today some Pharisees and Sadducees!" Rather, he addressed them with words no self-respecting Lutheran preacher would use if a celebrity, religious or secular, were to show up unexpectedly for a worship service: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"
    Ouch! John didn't mince words. Yet people flocked out into the wilderness of Judea to hear him, and we get the impression they were lining up to be baptized.
    His message is one of the themes of Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas. The favorite carol "Joy to the World" says, among other things, "Let every heart prepare him room." Therefore, we should use this time to examine our inner life and ask ourselves if there is anything we're doing right now which might be blocking the door through which Christ wants to enter into our hearts. That's what Advent is about. If we're to experience a meaningful Christmas we must get rid of the junk, the negativity, the bad habits, the uncharitable thoughts about people who are different than we are. As I wrote last week, and it bears repeating, Advent is a penitential time, a time of waiting, a time of "preparing the way of the Lord," a time of introspection, a time of asking ourselves, "what is it in my life that must change," how can I "make straight the way for God within?"
    And as I suggested last week, an excellent way to observe Advent and prepare ourselves for the joy of Christmas is by engaging in daily Bible readings that pertain directly to this season in the church calendar. Here are the readings for the coming week:
Sunday, December 4: Repent! Matthew 3:1-12
Monday, December 5: Jesus Heals and Forgives Luke 5:17-26
Tuesday, December 6: Comfort My People Isaiah 40:1-11
Wednesday, December 7: Renew Your Strength Isaiah 40:25-31
Thursday, December 8: Chosen and Adopted Ephesians 1:3-6
Friday, December 9: Peace Like a River Isaiah 48:17-19
Saturday, December 10: Elijah Must Come Matthew 17:9, 10-13
    Daily devotions serve to set our sights on things above, to help us get though the day ahead in spite of all the stress, disappointments, personal issues and other things which do not serve to "make the season bright." These brief readings during Advent can help us see the peripheral issues that annoy us in light of the challenge to "make straight the way for God within," remind us of what's really important, namely our relationship to Jesus Christ, and lead us towards that "true meaning of Christmas" that we all are challenged to discover.
    In this spirit let us observe a meaningful Advent! I'll reserve my wishes for a Merry Christmas to all for two weeks and six days from now.

    Faithfully yours,

Pastor John Schweitzer

Last Published: December 5, 2016 11:53 AM
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