Dear Fellow Children of God,
We are in the dark days in Alaska; December is upon us. While I know people who prefer the snow and outdoor recreation opportunities of winter in Alaska, I know of few who prefer the darkness of winter to the light of summer. We all know how darkness points to the pain and evil in life. But, experiencing darkness is more than just symbolism. There is a way that darkness can be oppressive and sap the energy and hope from a person.
Unfortunately, Alaska experiences darkness in many sad forms. We have some of the highest rates of substance abuse, suicide, and domestic violence of any state in the country. These activities are not just someone’s idea of what is wrong. Such self-destructive actions hurt the individual and others around them. And, such actions shout out that someone may be discouraged, depressed, or has lost hope. What causes someone to lose hope? These are obviously complex problems, but I expect that the darkness contributes.
After last month’s election I had someone sit down with me and ask, “Jonathan, tell me som good news.” He was discouraged. What causes discouragement in your life? I have recently heard discouragement from individuals because of terminal illness. I’ve heard people who are discouraged because of significant financial difficulties. I have heard discouragement and loss of hope from people because of family troubles. When life brings pain and disappointment and loss that seems beyond your control, have you sometimes lost hope?
This Sunday, however, is the beginning of a season of hope, hope because the love of God is breaking into our world of darkness through God’s Son, Jesus. The word Advent means ‘coming.’ The church season of Advent, which begins this Sunday, reminds us that God has come and is coming.
To a world that seems to descend more and more into conflict and decay, the King of Righteousness is coming as Judge and Savior. To people who face illness and uncertainty, the sure love of God comes in Jesus. To children who don’t know the security of a loving family or a warm bed, God assures eternal love in Jesus. To people whose mistakes and sins cause them to lose sleep over their regret, Jesus comes in forgiveness. To a world of people who can be discouraged, frustrated, or depressed, Jesus is hope!
No one really knows the actual date that Jesus was born. But, I am convinced that the early Church knew what it was doing in choosing this time of year to celebrate Advent and Christmas. Into the time of darkness, the light of the world has come. Maybe in the darkness of an Alaskan winter that light of the world is even more meaningful.
The Gospel of John begins with these words, “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:1-5)
The light of the world has come into the darkness in our lives. In this darkness, Advent points us to the real hope that God has come, and God continues to come to us in Jesus.
A Child of God, Full of Hope Because Jesus is Coming
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.