It’s a new day! Let go of old issues, relationships, or apprehensions that are holding you back. Decide to move forward using the knowledge you’ve gained, from your failures and triumphs, while making room for new accomplishments. Cleaning isn’t just good for your house, it’s healthy for your mind. Adopt the attitude that you can and will achieve your dreams, because it’s true. You have greatness within you! ~ Les Brown

Cornell Bulletin“Happy New Year!” No, you are not reading the January issue of the Deacon Speakin’.  While a month yet remains in the calendar year, the church celebrates the beginning of a new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent.  Advent — from the Latin ad venio, “to come” — is the Christian anticipation of the Adventus Domini, the “coming of the Lord.”

The Advent season is filled with preparation and expectation. Everyone is getting ready for Christmas — shopping and decorating, baking and cleaning. Too often, however, we are so busy with the material preparations that we lose sight of the real reason for our activity: the Word made flesh coming to dwell among us.  Christians are urged to preserve the spiritual focus of Christmas amidst the prevailingly secular and consumer-driven society. How do we wait quietly in the midst of the noise of our culture and the season? Perhaps it may be similar to asking an anxious child waiting for Christmas not to open his presents too soon.  But God is asking us to wait. Advent suggests that we not to rush into Christmas or into the New Year without first taking time to reflect; to wait and be still.

I think that we can be informed by the scripture found in Psalm 46:10a: Be still and know that I am God. Christians love this verse. We put it on coffee cups and on Bible covers. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy.  That’s all well and good, but that’s a far cry from the original context of the Psalm. The Psalmist admonished the people to be still… in the midst of war, social and economic oppression, chaos and change.

Our church is in a season of change. For the most part change is scary and requires a great deal of faith. Change indicates that something new is on the horizon.  However, because newness is what it is, new, we cling to the old because we have never traveled this way before.  One of our ruling elders made a keen observation. She stated, “we have to see our church as a new church development. We are in some ways starting over. We cannot keep looking back to how things were in the good ole days, times have changed.”  They have changed indeed. But in the midst of all of this transition with its inherent twists and turns God calls for us to be still. Why? Because God is God and God cares about the world, and us.

When I think about the scripture “Be still and know that I am God.”  It reminds me that as much as things change, things stay the same. It’s as if God is saying, “I am God and I do not change and because I do not change you can relax. I am always going to take care of you and what concerns you.”  I am learning this lesson all too well.  I have seen a very challenging year for our church and yet, I am still here, you are still here!  I am happy to say that I will be with you as your Interim Pastor for another year.

In The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan writes,            

 “If God works all things together for good for those who love him and are called to his purposes, you can relax. If he doesn’t, start worrying. If God can take any mess, any mishap, any wastage, any wreckage, any anything, and choreograph beauty and meaning from it then you can take a day off. If He can’t, get busy.” 

This is the paradox of faith, that as we wait and are still we are energized by our anticipation for something new.  Is it any wonder that the word recreation is essentially the word re- create? It is in our times of rest that we have the time and space to create, to change and to be refreshed. While we wait on God, God waits on us to be regenerated for good works.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season, let us strive to keep Advent a season of waiting and longing, of conversion and hope. Let us take time to be still in God’s presence.   Then we will be energized in all of our shopping and baking, to remember to purchase and prepare something for the poor. When we clean our homes and clean out our closets we will be encouraged to distribute some of our possessions to those in need. While we are decking the halls of our homes, we will be enlightened to open our homes to the lonely and most of all our hearts to our Savior who has come to dwell among us.

Yours in Christ,

Reverend Terri Cissé