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At the start of this month, we honor the time of Advent, remembering those who waited for the coming of the Messiah, long ago.  We, too, wait for the time when the Christ will rejoin heaven and earth, and we work toward that through our lives, every day.  Also this month, we will celebrate the joy of Christmas, when those who waited received the Savior, even as we wait for his return. 

Our season theme for this time is, “New Life: Conceived in the Spirit.”  I’m reminded of how the scene of the manger was so different than what was expected by those longing for their Messiah.  Their vision was of one who would likely be born into prominence, and who would grow to lead a great military victory to reclaim the lands of Israel.  They received an infant, born among animals and laid in one of their food troughs, who would grow to lead a group of society’s outcasts with a message of grace and love, until he would finally be executed as a criminal.  This was not the Messiah they had conceived of!  But isn’t that how God works?

Those waiting for the Messiah had a concept of who he would be, born out of their humanness.  They were angry, afraid, and longing.  In their thoughts, it was power that would help them overcome these fears, and they were waiting for one who would come in that kind of power to lead them.  But Jesus wasn’t conceived by human frailty, he was conceived by the Spirit of God.  And so his Way isn’t one that overcomes needs the way people tend to – with power and force.  It overcomes needs the Way God does – with sacrificial grace and unconditional love.  This is what was born into the world that night, and it’s what the Christ continues to bare through us, his disciples.

If we’re to truly let God work best through us, then, it’s helpful to remember that the way we tend to work as people is different from how Jesus tends to work, as the Christ.  Like our Advent ancestors long ago, in times of fear, frustration, and longing, do we embrace the human concept that control, certainty, and forcing a solution will solve our problems?  Or, do we allow our actions to be conceived in the Spirit, turning our words and deeds into that life-giving grace and love that can truly overcome the needs of the world?

This season, I invite us to ask ourselves, “In what ways do I conceive of the world through my humanness, and in what ways do I allow Spirit to show me how God conceives of the world?”  Humanness begets humanness; the Spirit conceives new life – a constant Christmas.

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” ~ Luke 2:8-12 (NRSV)

This season, my you find a deep Advent, a sacred Christmas, and Peace in the

Grace of Christ,

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