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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ;

In the Church Year, Advent serves us as a special time of preparation to welcome the Christ Child into our lives. We hear the beautiful prophecies of the coming Messiah and the blessings connected to His arrival. Our souls are filled with anticipation. Hope pours forth from our souls. As we approach the manger of Bethlehem this Christmas, the Christ-child’s arrival means the incarnation of God’s Hope for us. To each His arrival will mean something different. For some, His reconciling presence through the cross means hope for our own reconciliation with another human being. For some, His entry into the world affirms to us that facing the challenges of aging will not be done alone! He will gird us and lead us through this season of our lives. For some, His birth will mean a new beginning; a new prioritizing of our life and our relationship with family. For some, His birth resounds within our souls as we cry out to Him to hear our prayers for physical healing. And finally, for some of us His birth gives renewed hope as we navigate the challenging and rapidly changing economic landscape of our times.

Whatever His birth means to you; it is certain that His coming means the arrival of a much-needed dose of Hope. Through Christ’s birth, Almighty God is again speaking to the hearts and souls of His people. His message of grace, forgiveness, and hope are resounding throughout creation. He is saying to us, “I am in your moments! I have heard your cry! I will never abandon you or forsake you! I will have the last word for your life and the lives of those you love! Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people… (Luke 2)

In a past sermon message, I spoke about Vision. Vision is described by some as the ability to see what others can’t; Faith to believe what others will not; and the courage to do what others say can’t be done. I noted that often in Columbus’ dairy were these simple words recorded day after day, “This day we sailed on!” Advent challenges us to “sail on” even though we can’t see the final destination. Advent calls us to trust anew in the love, mercy, and grace of God for our lives. Advent shouts out to our souls, “God is coming to enter your world and walk with you through the moments of your life.” We are on a journey to the manger of Bethlehem because we need the Hope that the Christ-child’s birth brings to us. Hope to “sail on” in the midst of life’s unfolding challenges and needs. Hope to join with Mary in treasuring what the birth of the Christ-child truly means for our life at this time and place.

Helen Keller said the only thing worse than being born blind was to be born with sight and have no vision. Advent pleads with us to take hold again of who God is for our lives; to ponder anew the depth of God’s love for us and His desire for us to walk as His disciples. Finally, Advent says to us that God is not finished with us or with those we love. On Christmas, our souls are humbled as we realize that “God came for us!!!” His grace filled commitment to His creation gives us indescribable Hope as we look to the   future. Never let go of the vision of God’s presence in your life and what can come about for the lives of those you love.

A blessed Advent Season to all,

Pastor Michael McFarland