During Advent, I often meditate on the holy family. There’s Joseph, the adoptive father whose acceptance of Mary and Jesus is later mirrored in the adoption of the Gentiles into God’s original chosen family. I give thanks for Joseph’s love, grace and obedience when it came to putting together an unconventional family.
The church lectern has been pushed aside and the chancel chairs rearranged — just that morning the good news was proclaimed from that space. Now, in a few minutes, another story will be told. As the last of the stragglers enter the sanctuary, quickly and quietly taking their seats, a man dressed in a Victorian frock coat and top hat walks onto the makeshift stage. After a brief dramatic pause, he begins with the opening words of all good stories — “once upon a time.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Very rarely, though, do we stop and think of who these men and women are, let alone the challenges that they face, as they work to bring peace to the most turbulent places around the world. Presbyterians Today takes a look at today’s peacemakers.
Diane Moffett is a busy woman. Six months into her role as the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s president and executive director, she has been to countless meetings and other events, sharing her vision for what she calls a “Matthew 25” church — one that gives food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, care to the sick, companionship to the lonely, and welcome to the stranger.
There’s a reason Blue Christmas and Longest Night services have become popular in recent years. They recognize that amid all the shopping and get-togethers, the holidays need tidings of both comfort and joy. Comfort, because loneliness, grief and pain can be especially potent this time of year. Joy, because we need the hope of the gospel.
The refrain of Advent is Come, Lord Jesus. And so, during the season, we stand in the place of those who awaited the advent of the Lord for centuries before the birth of Christ. We cry out for the Lord to come. But just as importantly, we also stand looking forward to Christ’s second advent, when we, who see through a glass darkly, will see our Savior face to face.
I was talking to my friend from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma one time about how squirrels can signal to us what kind of winter we could look forward to. He said that when the squirrels dig holes in the ground to bury their harvest, we can expect a mild winter. If squirrels carry their harvest to their nests, then a heavy snow would be expected, as snow would be more difficult for the animals to work through to get to the food.
“He did not speak to them except in parables.” — Mark 4:34