Happy New Year!

New years come in all shapes and sizes. There is a global New Year that runs from January 1 through December 31. There is a personal new year that runs from your birthday to your birthday. Marriages have new years that begin again at their anniversary. And millions of Christians celebrate a new year with the season of Advent.

New year celebrations offer us the opportunity to look back on the time past with reflection and thanksgiving while looking forward with hope and anticipation. New years give us the chance to identify the hurts and the struggles and the grief we may have experienced in the past and decide whether we hold onto them or let them go. We get to name the dreams and the longings of our hearts and decide what direction we hope to move into in the future.

Advent in the church is just such an opportunity for us. It is a season of waiting and watching for Jesus – for his birth among us as God made flesh and for his return among us as Savior and Lord. We explore in this season the longings of our spirits for healing and wholeness, for love and joy, for peace and hope. We light candles, we say prayers, we sing hymns and we hear the promises spoken by the ancient prophets  – and by Jesus himself.

Here at Peace, you have had a year of great changes. Pastor Sarah took a new call and now you are waiting for a new Pastor to come among you and walk by your side. Nadia has announced her departure and you are waiting to see what happens next. What will we ask of someone? Who will come to love us? Your hearts are waiting and watching, longing and hoping.

As we come to this season of Advent, now is the time to for us to look back with reflection and thanksgiving, even as we look forward with hope and anticipation. Now is the time for us to give thanks for the good that has been even as we name our hurts and fears and lift them before God. Now is the time for us to wait and watch for the ways that Jesus will yet show up among us here at Peace and to trust that our future is bathed in the goodness of God with us.

I know waiting can be hard – especially when it is an open-ended kind of waiting. When will Jesus return? When we will get a new pastor? When we will find a new member of the staff to love our children and youth, our community and us? When, when, when?

This season at Peace, I hope you will join us for worship as we explore these very themes of Advent. As we wait, what are we supposed to do? Why is waiting so hard? How can we support each other as we wait together for what is yet to be?

And then in January, I hope you’ll join me for some special times of listening, praying, and healing. I plan to invite parents to a time of conversation about the future of faith formation for their children. I plan to offer special healing services. I intend to schedule a series of “Porch Sittings” open to any and all for conversation and listening.

And as we celebrate this season among us, remember that even as we wait for Jesus to come, we know that he already has come. And by faith, we believe he is still coming each and every Sunday in the remembrance of our baptisms and in the breaking of the bread. We believe that the gift of God’s Holy Spirit poured out is the continuing way that Jesus shows up among us every day. God is here even as we await for God to come. God is with us.

And so, Happy New Years, Peace! Happy New Year!