We have been busy this fall! From community Thanksgiving worship to Bible study; from above and beyond giving opportunities to visionary planning; from welcoming new members to re-establishing volunteer opportunities. It seems like every Sunday came with a long list of announcements and dates to remember!
As we move into the advent season, let’s try to slow down a little in order to reflect on what this season means for us. Yes, advent comes with all the preparation for Christmas: letters to Santa, tree trimming and decorations, cookies in the oven, shopping, get-togethers with loved ones, and maybe some travel plans. But in the midst of all of that joyous chaos, remember that this is also a season of waiting.
We are awaiting the arrival of our Messiah, Emmanuel, God-with-us. We are awaiting the arrival of a tiny baby whose teachings and way of living would inspire generations of others to welcome God into their lives and, hopefully, love into their hearts.
In my final “ordinary times” sermon, I talked about the compelling nature of Jesus as God. The idea that Jesus, that tiny Christmas baby in a manger, was actually God enfleshed in a human body, ready to share our human experience from birth to death, makes Jesus’ ministry so much more powerful for me. This advent season, I encourage you to reflect on that.
Every now and then, in the midst of your Christmas preparations, stop to remember that this season is also about preparing our hearts and minds for the arrival of our God. Stop to remember that the reason for the season is God going to great lengths in order to be with us, to understand our lot, and to show us a better, more loving way of living. Let those reflections and meditations prepare you for the rest of the Christian year, which begins with the first Sunday of Advent.
Wishing you all a joy-filled holiday season, health and happiness in the new year, and insightful Advent reflections!
– Pastor Julia
I've also been looking forward to reading this book because of its author. Jared Byas is a co-host of the podcast "The Bible For Normal People," on which he and Pete Enns (one my favorite Biblical scholars!) explore the library of ancient texts in a way that helps normal people - those of us who aren't super smart and don't have time to dive all the way into the depths of biblical studies - understand what our Bible actually is and how it works. They manage to do that with a good amount of humor, too!
So, if you're not into hefty academic biblical studies, but want to know more about this ever-so-human prophet and the whale he supposedly lived in for three days, I can recommend this book! Here is Amazon's summary:
Jonah’s encounter with a big fish is one of the most widely recognized—and misunderstood—stories in the Bible. In this highly accessible guide to the book of Jonah, Jared Byas invites modern-day readers to explore the context behind the story, and consider the questions Jonah’s early audience faced: questions about the relationship between justice and mercy, what it means to be a worshipper of Yahweh (and who gets to be one), and what happens when God doesn’t act how we would like.
Through explorations of genre, language, history, themes and theology, Byas skillfully guides us on a journey with Jonah into the depths of the unknown . . . and finds many of these questions are still relevant today.
Let me know your thoughts!
- Pastor J