It has been awhile (since a blog post) & since meeting…well sort of. We gathered last Sunday — and we were in a difference space, we swapped locations with the kids so that they could decorate the Christmas tree! So we gathered in the lower level of the church. It was fun to have many gathered round the 2 tables — and it was festive feeling because it had been 2 Sundays off! First, the Sunday when worshiping with other churches with our Thanksgiving worship & then due to weather and church getting cancelled! So we, found our way back…we gathered round the table (sans coffee — don’t worry, all did survive)…we smiled & laughed & we prayed in.
And then we checked in a bit, the on-going home/lifework was to take the 2.5 minutes of stillness — and so the check-in opened space for folks to share what they had noticed/experienced, or if they preferred a different check-in people could also answer what “Advent” is.
People shared mostly around the stillness, some really not liking it, others naming that they (their minds at least) don’t really so much still. One person (to the great delight of this Pastor!) noticed how God seemed to be speaking in surround sound to them through various devotionals regarding the idea of stillness/stopping. (Go God for being consistent). Another person shared taking the time, and God speaking in that space, but then life getting busy — naming the desire to live (or be) alone as the ability to be still/quiet becomes much easier to manage. Yet another person mentioned the capacity to sit, for 30 minutes or an hour — and how in that time there would be minutes of that stillness — but how they have learned to let those moments come, that they cannot be forced. There’s a beauty here in that thought and understanding, something to the effect that we position ourselves (in every way possible) to be open to God. So we stop as we are able, we slow down as we can (even when it is hard), we work to practice disciplines/rhythms in our lives that allow God the space to speak. We can’t force God to speak (I mean, we can’t even force our thoughts to take a breather now can we?), but we open ourselves and our lives to see what God is saying to us (right now — today!). Prayerfully, we each will continue working to do just that — making space for God to have access to us, whether it’s in taking time for quiet, being diligent in devotional study, sitting in a chair, taking time for coffee/tea, being sure to go outside, or finding a stump (or a place for hunting) — may we be listening and leaning into the voice of God.
After check-in of course we turned to scripture, specifically Matthew 24:1-14. After hearing the text read twice and allowing for some silence there was an opening comment as to how it sounded a bit harsh. Others noticed that this (these challenges/conflicts) has been happening since the scripture was written down. We also even discussed briefly how scripture was written in context (2000 years ago) — and was speaking to exactly what was being experienced then, and so we are invited both to understand as much as we are able the context and specifics that the author was speaking to (then); while also seeing what scripture has to say to us (now). And that really leads into what the homework is for us this week:
- First: to offer an interpretation of Matthew 24:1-14 for us right now. (Think about how you interpret this passage, and offer that to us when we next gather!)
But, maybe because it’s been awhile, there’s also a 2nd homework/lifework prompt. And this ties a bit more with what came up during the check-in from quiet time (and making space where God has access/rule):
- Second: consider how you wait; how do you prepare for God during Advent? (Do you do anything special?)
And as you think about these lifework/homework assignments — it’s worth remembering what also was lifted from these verses last Sunday, the idea of the importance of endurance and the promise to those who endure (and to be sure the only way any endure is the grace of God y’all — it’s not about our ‘strength’) — but even in the encouragement to endure — let us also be prayerful that God — through grace — allows Christ’s love in us & in the world — to not grow cold, but rather to be a warmth that nurtures life!
In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater