Usually, for many of us in Advent, there is a mixture of the sacred and the secular.

Dear Congregation,

 Advent greetings! I pray that all is well with you as we continue on this unique Advent 2020 journey, like none we can remember. Usually, for many of us in Advent, there is a mixture of the sacred and the secular. We enjoy the beauty of the season in worship–  Advent candles lit one by one on the wreath, decorated Christmas trees, hauntingly lovely, familiar carols,  but there are also the pressures of shopping for gifts, decorating,  baking, sending Christmas cards and packages, that are part of what we are used to doing every year. Sometimes Advent may feel like a marathon we’re running with Christmas as the finish line, when we can finally sit down with a sigh of relief, grateful that everything has been accomplished.

 But this year, in addition to the usual holiday stresses, there is the over-arching specter of the Covid-19 pandemic that has worsened, as predicted, with fall moving into winter. It’s the number-one story on the news today, even though it’s followed by the great news that vaccines are almost ready for distribution. We are waiting for the promised end to the pandemic while we wait in Advent.  And so in the midst of all this, I am very glad that one of Sunday’s scripture passages, Isaiah 40:1-11, speaks of the comfort God promises. “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God…”(Isaiah 40:1)

The Seasons of the Spirit commentary says that in this passage, “Comfort is more than a calm ‘there, there’ for a wish for things to be all right. To comfort is to nurture and encourage, strengthen and empower for movement, change, and action. “This is the comfort that God promises to give.

We could surely all use some comfort, and God’s comfort is the best there is. We are not alone, but have the assurance that, “He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.” (Isaiah 40:11)  I invite you to carry this image of God as our Good Shepherd in your mind’s eye and in your heart, as a talisman against worry and anxiety. Rest in the assurance that God’s love, peace, hope, and joy are for you, as symbolized by the Advent candles.

May God comfort you and keep you close in Advent and always.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Candy

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