Please be mindful of the parking restrictions around the church. There is no parking on Steeple Hill from the Park driveway to Richmond Road. Tickets have been given out in the past, and the police will be patrolling during Christmas. On this map, the green areas indicate Church Parking lot spaces. The red areas are…
The Season of Advent: Looking Ahead and Looking Back
Each year, as we prepare for the celebration of Christmas, we observe the four Sundays and weeks of Advent. From the Latin word meaning “to arrive” or “to come,” Advent is the season of waiting for the return of the Lord at the end of time and for preparing for the celebration of his birth at Christmas. Drawing upon the prophetic texts of the Hebrew scriptures, especially the Prophet Isaiah, we hear in the liturgies of Advent the promise of a Redeemer who will free humanity from its enslavement to sin and eternal separation from God. This has been accomplished for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus: he fulfills the prophecies of old and restores humanity to the hope and promise of eternal life.
On our journey of faith, we look forward, we look ahead to the time when Christ will gather into his eternal kingdom all who have believed and lived his gospel. The first two weeks of Advent direct attention to the future and to the ultimate fulfillment of God’s redemption. We look to the path before us; we know there will be trials and challenges, but we do not lose hope. Christ is victorious; he will bring us into the new heaven and the new earth if we persevere in faith. Advent points the way ahead, to a time of blessing and peace when Christ will come again in glory with the angels.
Advent invites us to look back, recalling the good news: “unto us a child is born.” Just as Mary and Joseph prepared for the birth of God’s own Son, so do we by reflecting on God’s word, and by opening our hearts to Jesus. We look back to Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem, to the shepherds watching their flocks, and to the angel speaking “good news of great joy.” From the Third Sunday of Advent until Christmas Eve, we hear the wondrous stories of Elizabeth, Zechariah, John the Baptist, of Joseph, the Angel Gabriel, and Mary who said, “be it done to me according to your word.”
The weeks before Christmas can be fast-paced, frantic, exhausting, and exhilarating all at the same time. The Advent liturgies offer time and place, quiet and space to reflect on the wonder and the mystery of our redemption. This season unfolds as a loving gift from our God who calls us from the past, leads us to the future, and is God-with-us in every present moment.
– Rev. Paul Shepherd