The first Sunday of December marks the first Sunday of Advent, a word derived from the Latin word “adventus” which means “arrival or approach.” While the weeks will pass quickly and the rapid change of the weather will cause seasonal adjustments to bundle up for there winter ahead, there is great news approaching.
This is a liturgical and life-giving season as we prepare through prayer, fasting, music and singing, lights and colors, commitment and listening. Advent marks a new beginning with the end in mind. The Reign of God, the declaration that Christ will come as Emmanuel, as well as what Christ has done and will do for us – for what we could not do for ourselves.
When we proclaim the mystery of faith as we prepare to share in Holy Communion, we recite, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” Advent is rich with opportunities for the Church to live in songs, like “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” (Hymn #206 in the UM Hymnal) a song that emphasizes that “to walk as a child of the light is to follow Jesus.”
Advent opportunities include being intentional when devoting our attention to children who need to be affirmed, encouraged, protected, loved, and accepted as children of God. Our Indiana Bishop’s Christmas Offering for Children seeks to provide support and resources to local churches, communities, and organizations around the world, which are committed to improving the lives of little ones, who are the most vulnerable across societies.
Advent opportunities also include seeing the number of people in our mission field who are hungry and going to the market with an additional assignment to feed our neighbors. An opportunity can also be as simple as calling the person at the checkout counter by name. There are so many opportunities all around us daily.
This is a season to be generous in our charity, gracious in our civility, and lavish in our hospitality.
As we enter into Advent, I invite United Methodists across Indiana and our neighbors around the world to pause for a moment of prayer this Sunday, December 3, to observe Global Migration Sunday. There are 65 million people displaced in the world today and they need our prayers, our support, and to know that a brighter day will come.
We should encourage each other, as clergy and laity, to invite our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and all those who we encounter to worship, Bible study, and fellowship this season. Advent opportunities start in our own hearts and homes.
As we continue to be blessed by the glory of God in this season of Advent, may we also enter into a time of continuous prayer. We pray for the most vulnerable, victims of violence, those facing injustice, and those who have not yet felt God’s love in their life. We also pray for our nation, the world, and especially for the witness of The United Methodist Church.
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors!
That the King of glory may come in.
–Psalm 24:7 (NSRV)
Bishop Julius C. Trimble