From the Bishop: The Season of Advent
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to
preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our
Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
– The Collect for Advent II
The season of Advent has now arrived, and in the days to come we’re invited to do the work of “preparing the way” in both our hearts and our world for the coming of the Christ. We’ll be invited to repent, wait, watch, pray and hope. The work we’re called to will be the same whether we imagine ourselves to be preparing for the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus, or whether we imagine ourselves to be preparing for the second coming of the Christ at the end of days. It is the same God either way – a God who is constantly breaking into our daily human lives and relationships. The question of this season is not whether God will come, but whether we will be prepared to see and welcome God when that advent takes place.
We must not let ourselves off the hook for “preparing the way” out of some sense that our time on this earth does not matter, or that we can have no meaningful impact on the lives of others of in the communities in which we dwell. In the aftermath of the presidential election, many people of faith are feeling powerless in the face of forces that seem bent on destroying the environment, persecuting racial and ethnic minority groups, denying the civil rights of the LGBT community, and wielding brute military force to deal with the complex challenges of an increasingly complicated world. While it is true that our time on earth is short and that it can be difficult to measure how we make any difference in the face of the sin and brokenness of creation, I believe that as followers of Jesus we are called more than ever to the work of Advent, which begins with a turn away from what is evil, a turn towards what is good … and a sincere effort to make a difference in the world in such a way that we help make a pathway for the coming Christ. This is work that will be all the more meaningful and all the more powerful if you take it up with your larger church family. Margaret Mead is remembered for saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
I wish you one and all a deeply holy and meaningful Advent. Let us ready our hearts and our homes for the God who comes.
Faithfully Yours in Christ –
+ Bishop Barker