No Judgments, Just Jesus

Advent Letter 2019

Dear Immanuel Members and Friends,

It is my prayer that this letter finds you enjoying Thanksgiving with loved ones and friends. As you know, Advent is right around the corner. This is the time when the Christian year starts anew, highlighted by a long period of waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled in Christ. Perhaps now, more than ever, waiting is a difficult discipline to achieve. We live in a world of instant gratification. Our tolerance for patience has declined. And yet, without steadfast patience we cannot endure in faith, hope, or love.

            This year, for our Advent reflections, we are focusing on the lectionary readings from the prophet Isaiah. Centuries before the coming of Christ, the prophet wrote to a troubled and sinful people. The beleaguered nation was witnessing a rising superpower to the north that threatened to invade them. But the challenges were not only “without”. In their midst, the political and religious leaders were flaunting their corruption and the people had descended into idolatry and infidelity. Like a good prophet, Isaiah challenges these injustices, while also (again, like a good prophet) offering hope for the future. These “sayings of hope” continue to inspire courage and faith, and are used in our lectionary to point to Christ’s coming.

            Listen anew to some of these hopeful promises:

In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
    and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it…
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:1-4)

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-3)

For a child has been born for us,
    a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
    and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

These are a sampling of the passages we will reflect upon during this coming Advent season. I am excited to share these promises with you as we consider how they bring us hope, peace, love, and joy as we eagerly yet patiently await Christ’s coming. I greatly look forward to sharing in and fully experiencing the “long wait” of Advent so that we might together be better prepared to welcome our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Messiah.

I conclude with the invitation Isaiah offers us all: “Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” (Isaiah 2:5)

Grace and peace,

Pastor Rich

Advent Sunday Services – 9:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.: December 1, 8, 15, 22

Christmas Eve Services:

December 24 – 5:00 p.m.: The Nativity Pageant: The Birth of Jesus

December 24 – 10:30 p.m.: Candlelight Festival of Lessons and Carols

Christmas Envelopes

“The 2019 Christmas Fund”

 (Formerly Veterans of the Cross)

The enclosed Christmas offering envelope is for a United Church of Christ Wider Mission called “The Christmas Fund” (formerly Veterans of the Cross).  This wider mission helps to support retired ministers and their spouses, ministers who work in poverty areas and ministers who are indigent or in distress.  If you would like to support this mission please return your envelope between now and year’s end.