Happening Now Blog

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pastor's Wednesday Message

Tomorrow is the National Day of Thanksgiving. We're waiting for that day to arrive, but we're waiting actively, waiting by preparing, anticipating the feast. A lovely thought!

Shortly after Thanksgiving, on November 29, Advent starts.  Advent is a season of waiting, watching, praying, hoping.  But it's active waiting for the day of Jesus' coming.  It's not just sitting around feeling bored, distracted, dull.  To introduce Advent, I'll share part of one of my favorite Advent reflections.  It's by Henri Nouwen, whose writing on prayer and spirituality is well-known. Here it is:

What is the nature of waiting?  What is the practice of waiting?  …Waiting, as we see it in the people on the first pages of the Gospel, is waiting with a sense of promise.  "Zechariah… your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son."  "Mary, …Listen!  You are to conceive and bear a son" (Luke 1:13, 31).  People who wait have received a promise that allows them to wait.  They have received something that is at work in them, like a seed that has started to grow.  This is very important.  We can only really wait if what we are waiting for has already begun for us.  So waiting is never a movement from nothing to something.  It is always a movement from something to something more.  Zechariah, Mary, and Elizabeth were living with a promise that nurtured them, that fed them, that made them able to stay where they were.  And in this way, the promise itself could grow in them and for them.

Waiting is active.  Most of us think of waiting as something passive, a hopeless state determined by events totally out of our hands.  The bus is late?  You cannot do anything about it, so you have to sit there and just wait.  It is not difficult to understand the irritation people feel when somebody says "Just wait."  Words like that seem to push us into passivity.

But there is none of this passivity in scripture.  Those who are waiting are waiting very actively.  They know that what they are waiting for is growing from the ground on which they are standing.  That's the secret.  The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun.  Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it.  A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment.

Nouwen's words remind me of one of my favorite sayings: "The meek are getting ready."  That's what Advent is: getting ready for the reign of God's love.  May this be the day you realize that God's burning charity and perfect providence are getting ready to arrive all around you at any moment.

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Pastor Jim Flachsbart, who filled in for Pastor Brian last Sunday, does work as a handyman while he's waiting for assignments to serve as an interim pastor in the Oregon Synod.  He spoke to several people about this last Sunday.  If you would like to have further conversation with Pastor Jim, you can call him (contact secretary Tammy for the number).  If you'd like a flyer about Pastor Jim's work, please email Pastor Brian; he'll send you a copy.

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Lessons for November 29, 2015
Jeremiah 33:14-16
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36

This Week

Wednesday  7:00 - 8:30 pm SOV Choir

Thursday     Happy Thanksgiving

Friday          offices closed

Saturday     10:00 - 11:30 am SOV Choir
                  11:30 - 5:00 pm  Private event

Sunday       8:30 & 11:00 am worship Second Sunday of Advent
                  4:00 pm Church decorating