Reflection by Rev. Dr. Jean Hawxhurst, Frankfort District Superintendent
Matthew 12:18 and 21 (quoting Isaiah): “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles… And, in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
I heard recently over seventy percent of Americans are not members of a church. Certainly, many of those folks are members of other religious groups. But, it still means many of our formerly Christian neighbors no longer feel a need to live out a personal relationship with God through a committed Christian community. That’s so sad, but we know it’s true. I can’t even recall the number of times someone has said to me she doesn’t see the relevancy of church anymore, or he believes in God but not in the corrupt, institutional church.
In a lot of ways it’s not an easy time to be a part of the church. Being a church member is no longer the cool thing to be. It’s not the socially accepted norm for our culture as it once was. Today in our society being a Christian is being a part of a minority.
And, yet, the church is still the group of people to whom I want to give my time and my heart. The church is not perfect, but it is a beloved community of hope. It is the group of people who live in expectation and give their lives to having faith in what is to come.
That’s why Advent is our time. The four weeks of preparation before the Christmas season are the weeks in which we declare our hope for all the world to see. We know Christ has come and is coming. We will not be thwarted from our belief that God has a plan, and without a shadow of a doubt we know that plan is a good one!
A great French Proverb reminds us: “Hope is the dream of a soul awake.” This year during Advent, may we claim that hope. And, by doing so, may we be a witness to the world that the church of Jesus Christ has something special to offer.
Prayer: Holy God, you sent your son to the world to give us hope. Send him again, we pray, and give us eyes to see and hearts to welcome. We pray with steadfast faith. Amen.
Image: Cross-Anchor with Ship, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=46034 [retrieved November 29, 2011].