Emmanuel Lutheran
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Evalgelical Lutheran Church in America Northeastern Ohio Synod
Letters from Pastor Alan Smearsoll

           
December 2021

Advent is here. Wow, I can’t believe I just said that. Advent is here. Where did the year go? There are a couple of things I really love about the season of Advent. First of all, the change of color. We have been in the lengthy season of Pentecost since the beginning of June looking at the color green for roughly 25 weeks. That’s nearly half of the year! Green is the one color parament that churches need to replace most often because these paraments fade so much quicker than the others, having been exposed to daylight so much longer than the rest.

Advent’s color is blue. It used to be purple, but blue became the more accepted color some time back in the 70’s to distinguish this season of hope from the Lenten season of sacrifice. And that is what the color blue represents – hope. During Advent we wait with great hope and expectation for the coming Messiah.

Another thing I love about Advent is the purposeful “countdown” to Jesus’ birth. Each week another candle is lit on the Advent wreath until all are lit on that fourth Sunday, meaning Christmas is next. All right, perhaps that love of Advent is a result of my childhood. While I went to Sunday School regularly, I have one particular early memory of those days. In Sunday School one year we made Advent wreaths. My family used my Advent wreath year after year until it was no longer usable. It sat on the dinner table as we lit a candle each week.

I also love the season of Advent for the devotional richness it brings as we prepare to welcome our Savior. Each week builds upon the next. Advent calendars and devotional use at home help families to spend at least a little time together in hearing God’s word each day. We learn from John the Baptist that our preparations for Christmas are not about shopping, wrapping, decorating and putting up the tree, but about preparing our hearts to be open to receive what God is about to do in the world. Advent prepares us for the in-breaking of God among us.

God chose to be with us, but not just with us, one of us. One with us. And God did not disappear from our sight upon the ascension of Jesus, but rather remains with us through the Holy Spirit, and is at work among us always.

You may have noticed a small change in the church bulletin recently. When you open it up, you are immediately asked some questions. Where did you see God working around you? How did God use someone else to bless you? How did God use you to bless someone else?

These questions come to us as a part of the Dandelion Project. They are meant to help us with “God sightings” in our lives. As Christians, we are an “Advent” people, always in expectant hope and waiting for Christ to come again. While we wait, we are encouraged by these little “God sightings” around us. Many go unnoticed, but with special attention to these questions, might be seen more readily. Hopefully, we will begin to share our “God sightings” together in ways that will enrich our lives and help us to better see the glory of God that surrounds us. In many ways, these questions help prepare the way of the Lord for us.

Blessed Advent,
Pastor Alan




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