Advent, Waukesha, Church, Grace…..
My weekly epistle to share what is happening in the life and ministry of The Padre.
WOW, have we been slammed with news, metaphors, grace, sin, and…..so what else is new, Padre?
Point taken, but I am not content to just go along with the flow, SOS, new day. I have never seen life as “same old shit, different day” and I don’t intend to start now. No, each day is the revelation of God active in our lives. I absolutely know that is true, and my “calling” is to remind you of that fact.
Advent is almost as universally ignored as Lent has become with professional sports championships falling in that 40 days. Advent is “what’s that” while Lent is “seriously?”
Advent is a dual-function season of the Church Year. It is the liturgical Christian’s New Year: it usually starts right after Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas Eve. It is functionally divided into two different “Advents”: preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of time….we call that eschatology…$10 Greek word. The other “Advent” prepares us for the first coming of Jesus at Christmas.
An Advent wreath is set up in liturgical churches with 4 candles. The color of three candles is either blue or purple (Advent was thought of as a penitential season, hence the same purple color of Lent; currently we regard Advent as a preparatory season with hope, hence blue, which is also used for the Virgin Mary in liturgy). In both wreaths there is a rose “pink” candle that is the “party” color during the season where a let-up in any discipline is encouraged, the Latin word “ Gaudete” is the way it is differentiated from the other 3 weeks. OK, small primer on Advent.
My original home state Wisconsin saw a terrible event where a very troubled man seemingly purposely plowed through a Christmas Parade in Waukesha. Watching the video that was captured accidentally by a resident who recorded it on her cell phone. Even with my 24 years of service as a Paramedic did not prevent a sharp pain in my gut when I watched it. Prayers began immediately. I prayed for the families who watched in horror as their family, friends or even just fellow citizens where killed instantly. More menacing perhaps are the screams and cries of children. I was that odd Paramedic who actually loved caring for sick or injured children (there is an old random photograph from the Tucson Daily Star back in 1976-78 where I was photographed with my awesome partner Tom Price holding the hand of a child while we worked on her mother at a car wreck, long before becoming a Pastor). I prayed for the bystanders and off-duty first-responders who cared for the injured patients until the Rescue Teams arrived to treat, triage, and transport the injured. We are better than this, my friends, but even we fail to live up to who we are at our best.
A bit of Church news: Somehow I find myself serving 4 churches this Advent/Christmas/Epiphany Season. The saints at Queen Valley graciously changed the service time to 10:00 at my request. Thank you! I am serving at Risen Savior Lutheran Church in Sun Lakes/Chandler as their Liturgist at the 0800 Service. I am preaching on December 1st at St Luke’s at 1000, and Risen Savior at 1230 & 1830 Advent Services, and on December 8th I rotate to Christ Lutheran, Coolidge for an evening Advent Service. Then the usual weekend happens again. Though often confused regarding what day of the week it is, I am also energized by doing what God called me to do and what gives me joy. I pray I get to see you at one of the services. Last Sunday I celebrated a reunion with some dear friends of Carol (and me too) at the 0800 Service at Risen Savior…that was fun!
Lastly today my favorite topic: God’s grace. My life work is to invite, inspire, speak, listen and supply a lot of hugs to folks who just don’t “get” grace. How can it be that God loves me in spite of myself? How can it be that I try so hard, but am unsure how God sees me? No one else forgives all the stupid things I do, say and think; but that offer of grace leads me to humble myself and ask God for forgiveness. For the sake of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose death on the Cross completely atoned for ALL of my sin, we can return to God each and every time our guilt convicts us of our sin. That fact that we are totally forgiven of our sins makes me feel my own guilt for abusing my relationship with God, which in turn invites me to repent and return to Him again….and He forgives me again. Though I “know” that Jesus’ death on the Cross paid the penalty for my sin, I continue to need to return to Him. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is His promise that I, too, will rise on the Last Day (unless He returns before I die, and then I get a front-row seat for that amazing prospect of all people receiving new and eternal physical bodies for eternal life on the New Heaven/New Earth. WOW, that will be amazing!
OK, now it is your turn to ask questions to me. There is a box below this article where you can reply. I will try to answer your questions…but I appreciate a bit of grace on time till I can respond. I have a few things going on these days……
Blessings in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Padre Dave Poedel