After preaching just a dozen sermons as a young minister in his first church, a great theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr worried that he had run out of ideas and was repeating himself.
After preaching for thirty some years I can identify with Niebuhr. Even the most indefatigable pastors surely must feel the same way when a new church year begins with the season of Advent. In fact, as I write this article for the Advent newsletter, I face the same challenge. After all, the Christmas story and its attendant texts don’t change so how can one approach the Advent season year after year without running out of ideas or repeating oneself?
Similarly, we as Christians, looking for spirit and inspiration at Christmas time can also feel that “there is nothing new under the sun” in so far as the Advent season is concerned. How often can one put new wine in old wine skins? How often can one find inspiration in a story which is so familiar? Taking this challenge, a bit further, how do we celebrate another Christmas experiencing the same stories year after year?” We still strive to buy the right gifts, prepare the traditional food, create the Hallmark Christmas we’ve convinced ourselves that we just can’t live without.
My hope for all of us is that through it all, we remain faithful as a community of believers who live in a world where we live and are sent to others as ambassadors of Christ. May each of us find our own way of carrying out that mission. May our spirits be refreshed as we reflect on the scriptures, songs, and prayers that we will experience as we participate in the worship offered by our church whether in person or through the gift of virtual technology.
As we do, be assured that God will always find a way to be our comfort and strength from age to age. God, who has taken the form of a helpless baby lying homeless in a bed of straw, will lead us to find a quiet place of simple faith in the midst of this often-hectic Christmas season.
“Hark the glad sound, the Saviour comes, the Saviour promised long. Let every heart prepare a throne, and every voice a song……and every voice a song.”
Blessings and Love,
Rev. Blake Caldwell