Oakland church

Advent Begins – Reflections from Pastor Laurie

Advent begins… After the turkey has been devoured, the dishes done and the leftovers stuffed into the refrigerator, the darkness of the early morning in winter beckons to us. Advent, even in California, is rich with images of darkness and light, emptiness and fullness, anticipation and waiting. Despite the larger culture, which demands shopping, buying and busyness from us, we delight in darkness and the hush of a first word of annunciation.

We begin Advent with stillness and meditation. Instead of the blare of Christmas, expect the calm of quiet promise as we enter this time of waiting, just as a newly pregnant woman must enter into a time of waiting for her child to be born. As we begin the season of Advent, we, too, can begin in quiet anticipation of all that will come forth in time, in God’s holy time.

The first words of Genesis beckon to us, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.”  We begin at the very beginning of time and space, in the darkness, before there was light. Imagine the deep of a winter’s night, before the morning lights come up and the activity of life begins. Imagine the darkness of the mother’s womb at the beginning of life, when all is watery anticipation. Here we are, standing at the brink of time and it is beautiful, quiet and full of hope. Come into God’s presence with silence.

We invite you to walk the journey of Advent with us, in our adult education series, Wednesday evenings, starting November 28, from 7:30 – 8:30 PM. we invite you to join us, as we green the sanctuary this Saturday. We invite you to sing in the choir, preparing ourselves for the Light that is to come.  Drop off your children for a few hours in the morning, December 15th. Join us, as we continue to support the efforts of Alameda County Community Food Bank, as well as the work of East Oakland Community Project, the largest 24 hour, multi-service homeless shelter in Alameda County.  Join us, as we gather as an extended family, for our annual Christmas party on December 15th. Join us, and invite your friends and neighbors, as we celebrate a child and family friendly worship service on Sunday, December 23rd. Finally, join us and invite your loved ones as we open wide our doors, to welcome everyone to our inspiring Christmas Eve service, on Monday evening, December 24th. Join us, especially in these challenging economic times, are we recognize the face of Christ, in each person, and especially in the face of the poor, the homeless, the refugee.

How will the face of the Christ child come to you this year? Perhaps in the face of a happy child or an aging parent, in the words of a carol or as you write a note to an old friend, or in a simple gesture of kindness from a stranger. We never know how and when Christ will come, but we wait with expectation and hope for the light of new birth, in our homes, our community, the world and, perhaps most importantly, in ourselves.

… As for his face, why, the great galleries and museums of the ages are filled with our attempts to reproduce these features that expressed the true Emmanuel — God with us, those lineaments in which we saw for the first and fullest time the grace of God lived out in gladness, sorrow, and eternal tenderness. Yet, if we would believe his words,  his face is to be sought out and found wherever hunger, hurt and deprivation are found within the family of God whenever love is moved to touch and mend and heal.

—   J. Barrie Shepherd, Faces at the Manger

May you be blessed with the gift of love this Advent!
With love, Pastor Laurie

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