When I was serving a congregation full time I never particularly liked the years that Thanksgiving showed up just four days before the First Sunday in Advent. Not only did parishioners wear themselves out with holiday feasting, large numbers left town for the whole weekend. Those who remained often got caught up in Black Friday shopping excursions and few had much energy left for worship on Sunday. Attendance would plummet!
Now I’ve not been around Esperanza much at this time of year, but I suspect that something of that sort may happen this week. I won’t be surprised if I end up just preaching to the choir! Though, come to think of it, many of them are likely to be gone too! And that’s okay! I’ve been around long enough to know that we need our holiday rest–and if it means a long weekend without worship, that’s not all bad!
But it would mean that you would miss my commentary on Matthew 24. It’s a rich passage, one that contains a prooftext for the rapture and some words from Jesus about how to prepare for the Last Days. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t recommend a flurry of frenzied buying! While I’m not sure at this point the direction the sermon will take, (it isn’t likely to be an endorsement of rapture theology), I am leaning away from trying to scare folks into thinking the last times are near! The phrase, “surprised by joy,” has been bouncing around in my head in reaction to Jesus’ words, and I like the accompanying insights that have been popping in and out. It could be a fun Sunday!
Advent is one of my favorite seasons–maybe because blue is my favorite color–and it invites us to spend long moments in meditation and reflection on the coming Christ. We light candles on wreaths, hang symbols on Jesse trees, and think about what Jesus means for our daily lives and for our futures. I’ve written devotionals for the season for many years now and I love exploring its themes. If you’re interested in what I’m writing this December, you can check the daily devotional at www.desertmeditations.com.
I’m keeping Esperanza in my prayers. May Advent be a blessing to us all!
Pastor Steve Holm