Who went shopping on Friday?

Who has all their Christmas shopping done?

This is part of who we are as an American society – we have everything at our fingertips – or at least within 15 miles or so of Port.  Some stores are open 24 hours a day to meet our needs, so if I have a craving for Duncan Hines Double Chocolate frosting at 2 am while working, I can get in my car, drive two miles to the Stop and Shop, and get some  chocolate frosting, then precede to enjoy it thoroughly in secrecy.

Often times, we take for granted what we have, and we don’t realize what we really have until its gone – and we start missing it – desiring it, maybe even lusting after it.  It is those things like I mentioned last Sunday that get in the way of God – that get in the way of our faith.  They are the things that hold us back from truly experiencing what it means to be in a community of Christ and to be Christ-like – to experience the peace of mind that comes with faith in our Lord.

Here we are the people of God gathered together to worship and celebrate – to sing our praises to offer of ourselves – our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.  And when we do gather together we are to do so joyfully and enter into the very presence of our Lord proclaiming the good news that God has brought to us.  That very good news is the fact that God is good – and the fact that God is good and has made each of us in the divine image means that we inherently desire and seek out to be the good, honest, truthful beings in whose image we are created!  I guess this is our challenge in faith – especially during this Thanksgiving and Advent season.

Far from the temporal satisfac­tion we get from acquiring goods, God’s incredible love is dwelling among us – whether here in Port or across the ocean with orphans of war in a refugee camp.  We are receiving a gift beyond anything conceived by humanity and marketed with a sticker on store shelves.

If we truly want a life-giving Christmas, drawing closer to God needs to take priority over any material desire on this year’s wish list. For week one of Advent, we focus on living into eternal hope, carrying that hope for others, knowing that no matter what we go through, we are never alone – for as a community we walk together caring for one another and filled with the Spirit.  And when we feel broken, God will break through our circumstances and the light of Christ will shine. So let the focus of this worship time and our lives, as well as all other activities of the weeks ahead, be put in this one true hope that out of despair comes deliverance, out of suffering comes relief, and out of loneness comes community. So when we write our Christmas list or even our Christmas dinner menu, put hope down there – hope that we will strive to seek God first.

For we are indeed a people who have been given much.  May our cup of thanksgiving overflow to the rest of God’s creation this Advent and all the days of our lives.  May we simply be the good and decent human beings we are created to be.