The Pastor's Peace - December, 2017
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As I write this, I have just come back from a trip to Chicago to celebrate my 40th birthday. I know some of you will read this and think about 40 as still being pretty young, but age is relative, and for me I think that 40 years is at the very least a significant amount of time to have experienced the ups and downs of life. I was reminded of this when Amelia and I got together with some dear friends that we have known since even before we got married in our twenties. We got together with them in Chicago where they now live, and talked about the days, now over a decade ago, when we both were newlywed couples and would get together to discuss the joys and challenges of marriage. Since those times both my wife and I and our friends have had ups and downs, great things to celebrate and challenges to overcome. One of the things we were all happy about is that each one of us was at a really good point in life at the present, and that was a blessing for all of us.

As suggested before, however, that was not always the case. In the past 14 years or so that we have been friends, each of us has had work challenges, the challenge of relocating to new cities, and other things such as loss and hardship that affect us all. In the lowest of those times for each one of us it seemed unlikely that at some point in the future we would all be sitting around a table with everything pretty much being OK. The future, however, is always unknown, and it can bring joy and goodness even if it seems unlikely at the time. Looking toward that better future is what we call hope. We hope for what is not yet seen. It is also what we focus on in the season of Advent, that period of time that starts around the beginning of December and leads up to Christmas.

Advent is a time to remember and acknowledge that life is not always easy and sometimes is tragic. We might even be in a period of darkness or despair at this very moment, and if so Advent is a time to understand and admit that. In Advent we lift up the difficulties of life, and have hope for the light that can outshine any darkness. It is an important season and process, because we will always at some point face hard times. If we have the idea in our head that life is always wonderful and should be that way, then we will not know what to do when facing hardship.

If we, however, know that God is with us and have hope during the darkness, having faith in that light that is Christ, then we can face anything knowing that all things lead eventually to our eternal salvation in Christ. This Advent, know that you are part of the family of Christ and look for that light that shines in any darkness. Embrace that light and have hope that you find goodness and mercy in your life.

Peace and Blessings,

Pastor Brian